Stunningly well preserved 500-year-old Columbus-era shipwreck revealed: 'It’s almost like it sank yesterday'

Maritime archaeologists have used underwater drones to reveal the remains of an incredibly well-preserved 500-year-old shipwreck in the Baltic.

Dating back to the late 15th century or early 16th century, the mysterious ship was first spotted by the Swedish Maritime Administration (SMA) in 2009. Earlier this year, a closer analysis of the wreck was done by maritime survey specialists MMT, who were amazed by its level of preservation.

“This ship is contemporary to the times of Christopher Columbus and Leonardo da Vinci, yet it demonstrates a remarkable level of preservation after five hundred years at the bottom of the sea, thanks to the cold, brackish waters of the Baltic,” said Dr. Rodrigo Pacheco-Ruiz, maritime archaeologist at MMT, in a statement. “It’s almost like it sank yesterday – masts in place and hull intact. Still on the main deck is an incredibly rare find – the tender boat, used to ferry crew to and from the ship, leaning against the main mast. It’s a truly astonishing sight.”

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Pacheco-Ruiz, who is also a visiting fellow at the University of Southampton in the U.K., told Fox News that the ship was found off the coast of Sweden. Researchers, however, are not disclosing the vessel’s precise location.

A photogrammetric model of the ship's bow, showing the anchor still in place.

A photogrammetric model of the ship's bow, showing the anchor still in place. (Deep Sea Productions/MMT)

Such is the ship’s condition that some of her rigging is still in place, while her wooden capstan and bilge pump are also visible. Swivel guns are still in place on the ship’s gun deck.

However, the ship is shrouded in mystery. Unlike the relatively well-documented larger and more powerful vessels involved in a war in Scandinavia that spanned from 1563 to 1570, little is known about the ship found off the Swedish coast.

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“This is a very unique find,” Pacheco-Ruiz told Fox News, via email. “Knowing more about the ship will only come with further study - we have plans to go back and conduct scientific study of the hull remains to date it more accurately.”

A photogrammetric model of the ship's stern.

A photogrammetric model of the ship's stern. (Deep Sea Productions/MMT)

Pacheco-Ruiz explained that the project is also fulfilling a valuable role as a training ground for future maritime archaeologists.

Students from the U.K.’s University of Southampton participated in the analysis of the wreck, along with students from KTH Royal Institute of Technology in Stockholm who developed AI technology for the undersea drones.

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MMT, documentary maker Deep Sea Productions, Southampton University and Sodertorn University in Sweden have been involved in the research project for more than 10 years, according to Pacheco-Ruiz.

The undersea drone Surveyor Interceptor being deployed.

The undersea drone Surveyor Interceptor being deployed. (Deep Sea Productions/MMT)

Oher shipwrecks have also been revealing their secrets. Last year, for example, the wreck of a 12th-century ‘Viking-style’ ship discovered in a German port is revealing its secrets thanks to high-tech 3D-scanning technology.

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Students from the University of Southampton and Stockholm KTH took part in the expedition aboard the Stril Explorer.

Students from the University of Southampton and Stockholm KTH took part in the expedition aboard the Stril Explorer. (Deep Sea Productions/MMT)

An international team of researchers, including experts from the University of Southampton and MMT, has also discovered more than 65 shipwrecks in the Black Sea, many of which date back to ancient times.

Follow James Rogers on Twitter @jamesjrogers