Nord Stream explorers searching for natural gas around the island of Gotland off the coast of Sweden, have discovered twelve shipwrecks on the floor of the Baltic Sea. The oldest wreck appears to date back to medieval times and could be up to 800 years old and it is thought that most of the other ships are 300 - 400 years old.
The twelve ships, which were found by Swedish marine survey company Marin Mätteknik, MMT are largely very well preserved. Three of the wrecks have intact hulls and are lying upside-down at a depth of 430 ft. (130 m).
The wrecks were found along a 30 mile long x 1.2 mile wide (48 km long x 2 km wide) corridor in Sweden's economic zone, which lies next to the proposed Nord Stream pipeline route from Russia to Germany. The Nord Stream consortium, which plans to start construction in April, has promised to make sure its activities do not damage the wrecks.
According to Peter Norman, a member of Sweden's National Heritage Board, more than 3000 shipwrecks have been discovered in Baltic waters, including the royal warship Vasa, which sank on its maiden voyage in 1628. The Vasa was raised from the Stockholm harbour in 1961, 333 years after it sank.
The Baltic Sea has a low salt content and therefore attracts fewer of the hull-eating worms that destroy shipwrecks. The sea is also shallow and easier to explore than other oceans.
According to Swedish marine archaeology experts who have analysed pictures of the wrecks, these findings could be of high historic value.
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