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18th-Century Dutch Shipwreck Found

June 30, 1999

HELSINKI, Finland (AP) _ Ending a 20-year search, a group of volunteer divers found the wreckage of a Dutch ship that sank in the Baltic Sea in 1771, leaders of the expedition said Wednesday.

The Vrouw Maria was found Tuesday in the Turku archipelago, about 125 miles west of Helsinki.

When it went down, the ship was transporting works of art from Amsterdam to St. Petersburg, Russia, on the order of Catherine the Great, the volunteer organization Pro Vrouw Maria said.

``We have seen the cargo through the bay doors, it seems intact, it hasn’t moved about and everything is loaded into wooden chests,″ Rauno Koivusaari of Pro Vrouw Maria said.

The wreck legally belongs to the National Board of Antiquities and Historical Monuments in Finland, so the expedition has no plans to salvage it.

``But we hope to participate when it happens,″ Koivusaari said. ``We hope that it is salvaged soon. Otherwise we can expect many uninvited guests to the site.″

The organization did not disclose the exact location of the ship, other than to say it was found between the islands of Jurmo and Borsto, just south of Nagu in the Turku archipelago.

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