'Like a 150-Year-Old Museum': Sweden Finds Well-Preserved 19th-Century Cargo Ship
07:22 GMT 18.10.2021 (Updated: 20:16 GMT 19.10.2022)
Due to the excellent condition of the steamer, archaeologists warned that it is likely to be looted, given that most of the relics remained on board and its location is now known. Among other things, clocks, compasses, crockery, and bottles are the most sought-after commodities.
A very well-preserved vessel has been found outside the city of Umeå in northern Sweden by the country's Maritime Administration.
The wreck outside Holmsund, encountered during sea measurements at a depth of about 35 metres, was identified by a team of scuba divers who saw the name of the ship both on the ship's bell and steering wheel, which also said "1877 London", and established that it was the English cargo ship "Annie" that sank in 1891.
"It is like a 150-year-old museum that has been closed for the past 130 years. All the stuff is left intact and due to the brackish water, all the wood is nicely preserved. Such well-preserved wrecks along the Norrland coast are unusual. The sea is not that deep there, and therefore ice pushes and destroys the wrecks", diver Mikael Rönnkvist explained to the Swedish Museum of Wrecks (VRAK).
The "Annie" was built in Sunderland and was just over 70 metres long. On her last voyage, the steamer, owned by Fredrick Gordon and Co, had loaded wood in Sävenäs outside the city of Skellefteå and was on her way to Sutton Bridge in Lincolnshire in England. On board were 18 crew members.
Yet, careless and slipshod navigation resulted in the ship running aground east of Ängesön outside Umeå. The "Annie" suffered bottom injuries and took in water. A salvage steamer arrived to start towing, but the damage was too great and the "Annie" sank. The crew was rescued, though.
The captain and his first mate were subsequently considered to have acted ineptly by the British authorities and were slapped with a six-month suspension from service.
Archaeologist Göran Ekberg of the state's Maritime Museum, warned that the wreck is likely to be looted, given that most of the relics remained on the ship and its location is now known.
"People cannot help but plunder things like this. The further in you can get in a wreck, the more you can take home and put on the bookshelf or sell", Ekberg told national broadcaster SVT. According to him, clocks, compasses, crockery, and bottles run the highest risk of being pilfered.