On Sunday exactly fifty years ago, a sample of Dutch shipping bravado from 1628 is at the surface for fifty years. Sweden stowed the Vasa in Stockholm harbour on 24 April 24 1961, nearly 333 years after the battleship build under the leadership of the Dutch brothers Hybertsson had sunk during its sea trials.

The Vasa, named after the monarch who managed to pry Sweden free from Danish hands, was the intended flagship of the then Swedish navy. The Dutch brothers Arend and Henrik Hybertsson ran the shipyards in Stockholm.

The reigning Swedish king Gustav II Adolf wanted the Vasa to be the strongest ship of its time. During construction, he decided that 64 guns (24 pounders) had to be carried, after which project leader Henrik Hybertsson had to recalculate the construction to a huge ship of 69 meters long and 52 meters high (mast top to keel). In order to keep the three-master in balance, Hybertsson thought that 120 tons of stones should be more than enough ballast at the bottom of the bottom.

On August 10, 1628, the hawsers were unloaded and the Vasa began its sea trials. Strong winds made short work of the top-heavy battleship after a mile and a half. Thirty to fifty of the 150 people on board lost their lives. Shipbuilder Henrik Hybertsson did not live to see the sinking; he died a year earlier.

After the salvage in Stockholm, Sweden created a museum around the Vasa. The Dutch calculation error has grown into Sweden’s most popular museum on land with a million visitors annually (2007-2010) in half a century. | © 2011 Marcel Burger for ANP News Agency (previously unpublished)