The Cultural Heritage Agency of the Netherlands (RCE) is currently involved in one project in Sweden. In this project, the 61 missing canons of the Vasa are investigated. In the past, the RCE has investigated the Swedish man-of-war ship Princess Sophia Albertina which sank near Texel in 1781. The RCE has also worked together with Sweden in the EU-projects MoSS, WreckProtect, Bacpoles and SASMAP and in the international research project on the Ghostship, an exceptionally well-preserved shipwreck found in 2003 near the island of Gotska Sandön.


The Vasa, built by Dutchman Hendrik Hybertson between 1626 and 1628 in Stockholm for King Gustav II Adolf, sank on its first journey on 10 August 1628. Originally the ship was fitted with 64 cannons. Yet, when the ship was salvaged in 1961 only three of these were found. Since 2018, the Vasa Museum, the Swedish National Maritime Museums, the British and Dutch embassies in Stockholm and the RCE are investigating what happened with the missing 61 cannons.

Princess Sophia Albertina

The Princess Sophia Albertina was built by the Karlskrona Navy Yard around 1764. It was designed by Gilbert Sheldon and launched on the 6th of December 1764. Its task was to be part of a convoy fleet to protect Swedish merchant ships. It was a working man-of-war and an imposing and beautifully decorated ship. In 1770, Prince Henry of Prussia sailed on the Princess Sophia Albertina from Germany to Karlskrona, and in 1771 the newly crowned King Gustav III crossed the Baltic Sea on this vessel immediately after the death of his father. On 20th August 1781, the Sophia Albertina was on her way from cape Finisterre back to Sweden. The weather was bad for days. Near Texel, she hit ground at 21:00 hours. The sea slowly bashed the ship to pieces. Between 02:00 and 03:00 hours she disappeared under water. Only 31 members of the crew of 450 men survived.

In 2002, recreational divers happened upon a ship’s bell while diving in a wreck near Noorderhaaks, a sandbar southwest of the island of Texel. It turned out to be of Swedish origin. After correspondence with the Swedish National Maritime Museum, the theory was put forward that this could well be the Swedish man-of-war the Princess Sophia Albertina, which was lost in 1781. This theory was confirmed by an archaeological field evaluation conducted in the summer of 2004, which resulted in the following publication.