Unlike the Vasa, whose preserved wreck is a museum in Stockholm, the wreck of the Äpplet has long eluded marine archaeologists.
The Äpplet was a sister ship to the Vasa, which sank on its maiden voyage.
Both ships were created by shipbuilder Hein Jacobsson, with improvements to the poor design that had made the Vasa unstable. said the museum in a statement.
After service in Europe’s 30 Years’ War, Äpplet was deliberately scuttled at Vaxholm in the Stockholm archipelago in 1659 when the ship was deemed unfit.
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Working with the Swedish navy, marine archaeologists from Vrak initially discovered the wreck in December 2021, but only identified it as the Äpplet this spring after further analysis of the vessel’s dimensions, construction, wood samples and archives.
Patrik Höglund, a marine archaeologist at Vrak, told CNN the discovery was “surprising” because they believed “there was nothing left of the wreckage in the area.”
The oak used for Äpplet’s wood was dumped in the same place as the wood for Vasa, adding to the identity of the disaster.
The seabed in the area was covered with rocks in the 1800s and dredged up in the early 1900s, so archaeologists thought there was nothing else to find, he explained.
In a statement, Jim Hansson, a Vrak marine archaeologist who worked on the discovery, said the team’s “pulses were raised” by the similarities between the dimensions and construction of the wreck and the Vasa.
Analysis of the remains showed that the oak was felled for its wood in Stockholm’s Mälaren valley in 1627, where Vasa’s wood was also extracted.
The two shipwrecks discovered by Vrak archaeologists in Vaxholm in 2019 were believed to be the remains of the Äpplet, but research revealed that they were the Apollo and Maria ships built in 1648.
Most of the hull has been preserved up to the height of the battery covers, which protrude six to seven meters (20-23 feet) from the seabed, according to the museum.
The team made dives to the wreck to collect samples.
Speaking of the importance of the discovery, Hansson described it as “another key piece of the puzzle in the development of Swedish shipbuilding”.
Höglund added in a statement that the Äpplet will help them understand how “large warships evolved from the unstable Vasa to large ships that could control the Baltic Sea,” a crucial factor in Sweden’s emergence as a major power in the 1600s.
Äpplet’s sand is in a protected military area, meaning diving is prohibited unless accompanied by Swedish navy divers. There are no plans to save the remains, Höglund told CNN, but they will make a 3D image.