Amsterdam (ship, 1749)

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Replica of the Amsterdam
Replica of the Amsterdam
Ship data
flag Republic of the Seven United ProvincesRepublic of the Seven United Provinces United Netherlands
Ship type East Indiaman
Shipyard VOC shipyard, Amsterdam
Commissioning January 8, 1749
Whereabouts Stranded at Hastings on January 26, 1749
Ship dimensions and crew
48 m ( Lüa )
width 11.5 m
Draft Max. 5.5 m
displacement 1100  t
crew 203 crew members, 127 soldiers
Rigging and rigging
Number of masts 3
Transport capacities
Permitted number of passengers 5
  • 42 × cannon

The Amsterdam was an 18th century merchant ship under the flag of the Dutch East India Company (VOC) . The ship began its maiden voyage on January 8, 1749 from Texel to Batavia , but got into a storm in the North Sea on January 26, 1749 and ran aground on the English coast. Here it had to be given up. The wreck was rediscovered near the town of Hastings in 1969 and is the best-preserved wreck of a VOC ship; At extremely low water levels, it protrudes from the surrounding silt and is clearly visible. Some of the wreckage is on display at the Shipwreck and Coastal Heritage Center in Hastings. 1985 to 1990 a replica of the ship was built in the Netherlands, which can now be viewed as part of the Amsterdam Maritime Museum .

The VOC ship Amsterdam

The Amsterdam was an East Indiaman (Dutch: Spiegelretourschip ) intended for the transport of goods between the Republic of the Seven United Provinces and the settlements, cities and fortresses of the Dutch East India Company (VOC) . On the way there, the ships usually carried weapons and bricks for the settlements and fortresses, as well as silver and gold coins for the purchase of Asian goods. On the way back to Europe, spices, textiles and Chinese ceramic articles were transported. Clothing and tools for the sailors and soldiers were also transported in both directions. On the way there were about 240 people on board the ship - on the way back there were only 70 people. The Amsterdam was built from oak at the VOC shipyard in Amsterdam .

Rear view of the Amsterdam

The maiden voyage in 1749

The maiden voyage of the Amsterdam was to go from the island of Texel to Batavia . The ship was commanded on this voyage by the 33-year-old Captain Willem Klump and was loaded with textiles, wine, stone ballast, cannons, paper, writing materials, pipes, household goods and 27 chests of drawers full of silver guilders . On November 15, 1748, the ship made a first attempt at departure, which was abandoned four days later. The second attempt to leave the port on December 6, 1748 also failed, so that the journey could not begin until January 8, 1749. The Amsterdam got into a strong storm from the west in the English Channel . For a few days it got no further than Beachy Head near Eastbourne . Finally, the plague broke out on board during this time , so that there was a mutiny . When the rudder broke, the ship drifted helplessly in the storm. Captain Klump then decided to let the ship run aground on the English coast so as not to endanger the cargo. In the Bulverhythe Bay it finally ran aground on January 26, 1749 about 5 km west of Hastings. The Amsterdam apparently sank so quickly in the silt that it could no longer be salvaged. Parts of the cargo, including silver coins, were confiscated by the local authorities to secure assets for the VOC. Some looting took place anyway, so that finally even English troops had to intervene to normalize the situation around the stranded ship. The ship's crew was looked after on site before they returned home.

The wreck of the Amsterdam

The wreck site in England
The boat deck

In 1969 the wreck of the Amsterdam was discovered at position 50 ° 50 ′ 41.8 ″  N , 0 ° 31 ′ 39 ″  E, coordinates: 50 ° 50 ′ 41.8 ″  N , 0 ° 31 ′ 39 ″  E when it was at a very low nip tide was exposed. It's the best-preserved VOC ship ever found. The archaeologist Peter Marsden undertook the first survey and made further efforts to uncover it. The VOC Ship Amsterdam Foundation started initial research into the wreck, which was followed by further excavation activities in 1984, 1985 and 1986. Several artifacts were found here. Despite this, the wreck is trapped in the sand and silt of the beach. Most of the exposure was done by divers, for whom a small tower was built near the crashed ship. In addition, it was framed with an iron structure. Some artifacts are on display at the Shipwreck and Coastal Heritage Center in Hastings, East Sussex. The stranding site itself is legally protected so that diving in the immediate vicinity as well as removing artefacts or pieces of wood is a criminal offense. The former Amsterdam can only be "visited" if, at very low tides, parts of the sacked wood are released from the water. A few years ago there were hopes that the wreck could be recovered due to its well-preserved condition and exhibited like the shipwrecks of the Vasa or the Mary Rose - but the funds for this could not be raised. Many of the decks and much of the bow are hidden but well preserved in the silt; this conserves the wreck in a natural way. Much of the cargo is also still locked in the wreck.

The replica

A replica of the ship was built between 1985 and 1990 in the Netherlands by around 400 volunteers according to the plans of the original Amsterdam , but is historically incorrect on many points. The craftsmen used Iroko wood for the hull and were based on shipbuilding techniques of the 18th century. However, due to today's shipbuilding regulations, some modifications had to be made: In addition to the use of tropical wood instead of oak for the shell and decks, the deck height was adjusted so that one can stand almost upright. The ribs were also glued and the ladders were replaced by stairs. The ship was transferred to Amsterdam and is moored here near the Amsterdam Maritime Museum; it can be visited as a museum ship. (Location: 52 ° 22 ′ 21 ″  N , 4 ° 54 ′ 51.5 ″  E )

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