Since we are soon in British waters, I thought the following story regarding the wreck of a Dutch ship might be appropriate. Enjoy!
In 1740, a Dutch merchant ship called 'De Rooswijk' sank on the notorious Goodwin Sands in Kent, killing all 350 people on board.
Now, almost 280 years later, a huge research mission is being launched to salvage the enormous merchant ship.
Researchers hope that recovering the wreck will provide valuable insights into life during the Dutch Golden Age.
De Rooswijk belonged to the Dutch East India Company (VOC) and was built in 1737.
In 1740 it set sail from the Netherlands on its second voyage to the East, laden with silver ingots and coins to buy up hugely profitable spices in what is now known as Indonesia.
Yet the ship never made it to Asia as it went down just off the British coast in January 1740, with all 350 people on board drowning.
Divers have already been exploring the wreckage site near the town of Deal in Kent to unlock some of its secrets since it was discovered in 1996.
|underwater view of the remains|
In 2004, diver Ken Welling visited the wreck, and retrieved two complete chests and hundreds of silver bars. Several dives since have recovered hundreds of Mexican silver cobs of the 1720s and early 1730s, and transitional 'klippes' coins that date to around 1733.
Hundreds more 'pillar dollars' have also been discovered and sold at auction.
|wood and silver recovered from the wreck|
Today, the Dutch government announced plans to salvage the wreck so it can be fully investigated.
Maritime archaeologist Mr Martijn Manders, who will lead the research, said: 'A big part of our history lies on the bottom of the sea.'
As the wreck is being threatened by currents and a future sand extraction project there is some urgency involved.
Ms Jet Bussemaker, Dutch Minister for Education, Culture and Science said: 'The ship offers a unique look to the past. The archaeological information which we can get out of the wreck is of utmost value to interpret this period in our history.'
Mr Manders hopes that by retrieving the full inventory of the ship, a lot more secrets will be uncovered about maritime trade during the Dutch Golden Age.
He said: 'A part lies underneath the sand, where the conditions are very good.
Maritime archaeologists and students from both the UK and the Netherlands will work on the project from July to October, 24 hours a day, in shifts lasting twelve hours.
Those shifts will be arduous to say the least!
Should more appear on this story we will endeavor to bring it to you.... should be interesting.
Until next time (and likely from the comfort of dry land and a fast(er) wifi signal!)