Years 1996-2005

Building the ship

Constructing a full-sized replica of an 18th century ship without any original drawings is pretty much condemned to fail. Adding to the fact that solely 18th century tools, building methods and materials were used. Luckily, though, some crazy dreams grow wings and take flight. The East Indiaman Götheborg was finished on the Terra Nova Shipyard thanks to a big number of enthusiasts, amazing inventiveness, benevolent donations, enduring sponsorships, and a never-ending interest form a city and a world longing for wonders. Seventeen years after the first dive, the waves were shattering against the beautiful boarding; an East Indiaman built according to old methods, and at the same time adapted to the technology of the 21st century and classified for ocean voyages. The real adventure could begin.



The East Indiaman Götheborg is built as accurate to the original East Indiaman as possible, according to the original methods and using the original materials. What were the specifications for sailcloth, tar and oak stocks 250 years ago? What were the working methods used? How were the tools designed? Moreover, the ship has to meet today’s safety requirements for ocean-going vessels – a requirement that the ships of the 18th century certainly did not meet. To complicate things even more, there were no drawings for reference, as shipbuilders at that time had it in their heads. Drawings for trading ships were rare before the 19th century. As an example, the design process of the rigging by itself with all its masts, yards, blocks, ropes and sails kept 20 persons busy for a total of 100 000 hours.


Joakim Severinson is one of the East Indiaman’s initiators. He was involved when the marine-archaeological investigations began back in the mid-1980s. He was involved when the construction plans were devised until the ship was finished. After meticulous research, it was Joakim himself who designed the Hull. He was also the Production Manager during the construction process. More than 30 years after his first dive down to the wreck, and after drawing and building the new East Indiaman Götheborg, he can now call himself a Master Shipwright.

- Thanks to great persistence and an incredibly goal-oriented body of staff, we managed to get the ship built. I like to compare us with bumblebees – they shouldn’t be able to fly, but they do it anyway. We built a ship that couldn’t be built, Joakim explains.


One of the hardest tasks Joakim and his team were faced with was not the Rigging, the Hull, nor the mighty Figurehead on the bow. It was something else completely.

- The most complicated thing appeared to be finding a concept that the classification company Det Norske Veritas and the Swedish Maritime Administration would agree upon.

The approved ship is virtually an exact replica of the original East Indiaman Götheborg in her lines, Hull, Rigging, materials and construction method. Moreover, she is a ship with advanced technical equipment, including two Volvo Penta engines with a total of 808 kW, something the original ship was not equipped with.


One of the magnificent highlights of the revived history of the ship was the launching on the Swedish National Day, June 6, 2003 that was attended by royalty and some 100 000 people. In China the event was followed by an estimate of 300 million people on the state TV channel CCTV. There was massive media coverage and a tremendous interest all over the world. The world wants to see dreams coming true and experience the impossible being achieved.

A movie about the work and commotion surrounding the launch of the East Indiaman Götheborg 06/06/2003.