Replica of Swedish 18th century trading ship to sail to Asia

STOCKHOLM (AP) — Her cannons firing a powerful salute, a full-size replica of an armed merchant ship that sank in 1745 sailed into port at the Swedish capital Thursday, ahead of a voyage to Asia next year.

Drawing crowds in every port she visits, the nearly 60-meter (197-feet) long Götheborg of Sweden is billed the world’s largest operational wooden sailing vessel and will be used to promote Swedish businesses and culture, and advocate for sustainability.

It’s the first time in six years that the three-masted ship has left her home port in western Sweden, so the trip offered a chance to bring the new crew up to speed.

“The ship is actually made for ocean passages,” said 26-year-old Marielle Cocozza, the second in command. “She’s missing the oceans and this trip to Stockholm is to prepare us to work together and I think that has been achieved.”

In 1745, the original Götheborg ran aground and sank just outside her home port of Goteborg at the end of her third round trip to China. More than 130 men were on board, and all survived.

The ship was owned by the Swedish East India Company, which traded with China and completed a total of 132 voyages with 37 vessels until it ceased operating in 1813.

The ship’s wreckage was found in 1984, triggering the idea to build a replica. Work started in 1995, and the vessel was launched eight years later. A maiden voyage from Goteborg to Stockholm was made in 2005.

Between 2005-2007 the ship sailed the historical route to Asia and back. The latest of several voyages around Europe was in 2015.

“Since our last expedition to China we have been looking forward to this," said the ship's captain, August Jansson. "Now it seems it will become true so we are all very happy.”

Götheborg of Sweden will remain in Stockholm until Sept. 4, after which she will head home and prepare for a departure in April 2022 for the Far East through the Suez Canal.

Although the exact route has not been set, stops are planned in London, Lisbon, Palma de Mallorca, Athens, Alexandria, Djibouti, Muscat, Chennai, Singapore, Ho Chi Minh City, Hong Kong and Shanghai.

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