‘Cursed’ warship under Baltic Sea remains incredibly well-preserved

Incredible relics of history lie at the bottom of the Baltic Sea, among which a famed Swedish galleon was found. The giant, 97-foot-long warship, named Mars after the god of war, dates back to the 16th century, and it is remarkably well preserved.

The slow currents and low amount of sediment in the Baltic, as well as the saline waters and absence of shipworms (called mollusks) means there is very little to cause the wooden vessel to decay.

Painting shows the battle that led to the destruction of the famed warship. Public domain

Many explorers have sought to find Mars over the years but have failed. It is commonly believed that there is a curse on the sunken ship. According to legend, a specter rose from the wreck and used its powers to prevent anyone from finding it.

Maritime researcher Richard Lundgren, part owner of a professional team of divers called Ocean Discovery, has been searching for the notorious vessel for 20 years. And since its discovery in 2011, scientists have been busy studying the find.

The site is littered with cannons and silver coins, which were minted the year prior to the battle when it was destroyed took place, thus confirming the ship’s identity.

Mars was part of the Swedish navy and is said to have been the largest, most formidable warship of its time—part of Europe’s first generation of 3-masted vessels.

Outfitted with over 800 crew and 107 cannons, Mars was a naval powerhouse. King Eric XIV ordered Mars to be built for the purpose of increasing the power of his navy. Although Eric was highly intelligent, it is believed that he suffered from madness. He was hostile toward enemies both beyond his borders and within his own kingdom.

King Eric XIV of Sweden (ruled 1560 to 1568). Public domain

Eric ordered one of his admirals to sail Mars along with a fleet to attack ships near Denmark and Lubeck (what is now part of Germany). In the beginning, Mars seemed unstoppable, though on the second day, she was attacked by fireballs, which, it is believed, ignited gunpowder stores. Mars sank in May 1564 off the coast of the Swedish island of Öland.

Currently, research on the relic continues, with professor of maritime archeology Johan Ronnby making use of 3D computer imaging to recreate the skeletal remains of the warship, rather than disturb its pristine grandeur, in order to share its wonders with the world.


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