National Geographic : 1962 Jan
Held Upright by Wooden Stanchions, Vasa Awaits Restoration in Dry Dock Early salvagers ripped up the galleon's main deck to gain access to the guns below. Anchors dropped by vessels overhead tore away the masts and high sterncastle. New wood patches the worst of the damage. Temporary covers seal the lower tier of gunports. Vasa rests on a submerged pontoon in dry dock at Beckholmen, just 300 feet from the point where she sank. Waterlogged hull takes an around-the-clock bath to keep it damp. Blackened by three centuries under water, the oak planks would deteriorate if allowed to dry too rapidly. Plastic film at top helps conserve moisture. Bolts reinforce the hulk. A workman peers from a gunport. ceased tolling for the Vasa dead before the first salvage attempt was under way. Three days after the sinking, the Council of the Realm authorized Ian Bulmer, an English engineer, to try to raise the ship. Vasa had righted herself while settling to the bottom and lay with only a slight list, her topgallant masts thrust above the surface at an angle. For all his efforts, Bulmer suc ceeded only in getting the ship on an even keel. Presumably he used horses on shore to haul the ship upright, the animals pulling on lines attached to the masts. After Bulmer had failed, the Royal Swed ish Navy made a salvage attempt, but gave 50 up because "the instruments were not strong enough." Then came a succession of French, English, Dutch, and German salvagers, leav ing tons of anchors, grappling irons, cables, and chain around the sunken hull. The most profitable attempt before modern times was launched in 1663 by Hans Albrecht von Treileben, a former Swedish Army offi cer, and his partner, Andreas Peckell, a Ger man salvage expert. They brought an assort ment of hooks, tongs, and grapnels, and an odd bell-shaped diving chamber. With their special implements, the pair set about rip ping off upper deck timbers, thus gaining access to the cannon beneath.