November 6, 2013

0390, 0856 SWEDEN (Stockholm) - Vasa, the ship which sailed only 1300 meters

Posted on 20.11.2012, 06.11.2013
On 10 August 1628, Vasa, the first in a series of five warships which aimed to had to end a series of defeats suffered by Swedish fleet and to make this country the dominant maritime power of the Baltic Sea, left the port of Stockholm in its maiden voyage. To mark the solemnity of the occasion, several volleys were fired by the cannons placed on the two decks, on both sides. While the majestic ship headed slowly towards the exit of the harbor, a gust of wind tilted it on its side. After redressed it, another gust tilted it again.

The water entered  through the open cannons ports, and Vasa sank, taking with it in depths between 30 and 50 of the 150 crew members. The ship sailed just 1300m and it was at only 120m of the shore full of people came to attend the event, including foreign ambassadors. The news of the sinking reached the Swedish king Gustavus Adolphus, who led the army in Prussia, after two weeks. Obviously, the disaster had to be the result of "foolishness and incompetence," and the guilty must be punished.

Of course that anyone didn't take into account the impatience of the king to see the ship joining the Baltic fleet in the Thirty Years' War, reason why the subordinates didn't have the courage to discuss frankly the ship's structural problems. The leaders of the inquest concluded that the ballast was insufficient in relation to the rig and cannon, and the ship was well built, but incorrectly proportioned. So in the end no one was punished for the fiasco.

Most of its 64 bronze cannon were recovered in the 17th century, but the ship was salvaged, with a largely intact hull, only in 1961. First it was housed in a temporary museum called Wasavarvet (The Wasa Shipyard), and in 1987 was moved to the Vasa Museum in Stockholm, located on the island of Djurgården. The museum is dominated by a large copper roof with stylized masts that represent the actual height of Vasa when she was fully rigged. The main hall contains the ship itself and various exhibits related to the archaeological findings of the ships and early 17th century Sweden, which means 2,000 objects, a small part of the museum collection, comprising 46,000 objects.

Although its career wasn't meritorious, Vasa is considered a symbol of the Swedish "great power period". The museum also features four other museum ships moored in the harbour outside: the ice breaker Sankt Erik (launched 1915), the lightvessel Finngrundet (1903), the torpedo boat Spica (1966) and the rescue boat Bernhard Ingelsson (1944). The friends who sent me the first postcard say that the museum is "one of the things that have amazed and delighted us most in Stockholm [...] Swedes built around it [the ship] a seven-storey museum, which is itself wonderful." I believe them.

About the stamp
The stamp is part of a definitive series of two, issued on March 24, 2010, designed by Gustav Mårtensson and depicting King Carl XVI Gustaf and Queen Silvia (it's on the postcard).

Vasa (Ship) - Wikipedia
Vasa Museum - Wikipedia
From wreck to state of the art - official website of the Vasa Museum
King Carl XVI Gustaf and Queen Silvia 2010 stamps - official website of the Swedish Post

Sender 0390: Ona Frantz and Michael Haulică
Sent from Stockholm (Sweden), on 01.08.2012
Photo: Hans Strand
Sender 0856: Marius Vasilescu
Sent from Stockholm (Sweden), on 01.11.2013
Photo: Per-Erik Adamsson


  1. It was our pleasure, dear friend.
    Happy to see it on your wonderful blog.