The East Indiaman Gotheborg Adventure

In Swedish please In Chinese please

Götheborg III. Painting by: Lars Gillis, 1996
Painted reconstruction of Götheborg III under sail, by Lars Gillis, 1996.

The thirtiesecond rib raised in november 1997. CLICK for a close up

By the end of november 1997 we are halfway through with the hull of the East Indiaman Gotheborg III at our own Terra Nova Shipyard, in Gothenbourg, Sweden.Click the picture for a close up. Photo: Sten Zackrisson, SZ-Bild 1997.

Foto: Michael Neikter-Nilsson

The 22 of may the Chinese Garden at The Terra Nova East India Shipyard in Gothenburg was inaugurated. Several members of STAF had volunteerd work, Chinese plants and equipment. The inaugural ceremony was an unique one in which the chairman of the Eastiundiaman Gotheborg Friends organisation Erik Wettergren and Counsul General Tan Jianlun tied together a Swedish silk ribbon with a Chinese, instead of cutting it.
From left to right Anders Wästfelt, Berit Wästfelt, Erik Wettergren and the Counsul General of the Consulate General of the Peoples Republic of China in Gothenburg Mr Tan Jianlun.

Foto: Michael Neikter-Nilsson

The since 6 years of age trained at the Shaghai Dance Academy, today doctor of medicine, Gu Wei, performed a classical Chinese dance to a dumbfound audience.

Photo: Michael Neikter-Nilsson

Photo by Sten Zachrisson, SZ-Bild

On Saturday May the 17th the East Indiaman Shipyard Terra Nova was honored by a Royal visit.

Photo by Sten Zachrisson, SZ-Bild

The Swedish Queen Silvia and HRH The King Carl XVI Gustaf of Sweden disembark in the Chinese Garden at our shipyard quayside.

Photo: Sten Zackrisson, SZ-Bild

On Sunday, april the 13th, the East Indiaman Gotenburg III project was honored by a visit of the Chinese Vice Premier Wu Bangguo together with a large delegation.

After having had a sip of the 250 year old tea found during the marine archaeological excavation Anders Wästfelt presented Vice Premier Wu Bangguo a gift of some of these 250 year old dried tea.

ON WHAT WAS LEFT OF the former Eriksberg Shipyard in Göteborg, Sweden a new shipyard - Terra Nova - has emerged. The shipyard was created in order to build an East Indiaman, Götheborg III, in accordance with the looks and proportions of another Swedish East Indiaman from the 18th century, the ‘Götheborg’.

In the year 1745 she foundered 900 metres away from Gothenburg’s harbour. Knowledge of her main proportions, the rig, the armaments and other details was collected during an extensive marine excavation undertaken between the years 1986-1993 at the place where she sank.

The ‘Götheborg III’ is being built with the approval of the Swedish Shipping Board and to category AI in Det Norska veritas. She will be Sweden’s only full-rigged sailing vessel and the largest wooden sailing ship of its kind in the world. She will be a Swedish flagship for international contacts within industry, trade and culture.

This is how it started

Privilegiebrev After Sweden had lost its position as a Great Power and furthermore had to pay for expensive wars during the 17th century, her economy was in ruins. International trade was a solution, and the first Swedish East India Company was founded in 1731.

A Swedish trading adventure 1731-1813

Between the years 1731-1813, Sweden conducted a peaceful and profitable trade primarily with China modelled on the successful English and Dutch East India companies. Gothenburg became the centre of the activity. The new international trade created a lot of wealth in Sweden and sparked off great technical, economical and cultural impulses. Sweden’s welfare and reputation as a centre of culture started during the 18th century with money made from the East India Company.

The first East Indiaman "Götheborg" was built in 1738 in Stockholm

The first East Indiaman, "Götheborg", was built at the shipyard Terra Nova, which means ‘the New Earth’, in Stockholm and launched in 1738. She made three trips to China. For 82 years the Swedish East India company utilised 38 different ships, almost all of them built in Stockholm or Gothenburg. Altogether 132 trips were made out of which only 8 ended in sinking. The shipwrecks were caused by bad weather and the difficulties in navigating by night without any instruments.
Gundstötningen The only accident that hasn’t had a satisfactory explanation occurred on 12th of September 1745. After a trip of 30 months to China and back the ‘Götheborg’ ran aground and sank 900 metres away from her home harbour. The circumstances were never explained and the sunken rock she hit near Nya Älvsborg Fästning was well known to all seafarers.

Salvageings 1850-1907

The accident didn’t bring total disaster, however. As far as we know nobody was hurt, and a lot of the cargo was salvaged. So much, in fact, that the trip was still considered a financial success!

On a couple of occasions in the 19th century further cargo was salvaged along with parts of the ship. In 1906 and 1907 James Keiller and Carl Lyon dived to recover some Chinese porcelain. (Newspaper article in Hwar 8 Dag, 1909). After that she was forgotten.

East India cargo in Göteborg, by Elias Martin, 1787, 

Our rediscovery and excavation 1986-93

Shard from the porcelain cargo The exact spot where "Götheborg" foundered was rediscovered on 9th December 1984 by the diver Anders Wästfelt and some friends in The Swedish Marine Archaeological Society. This led to one of Sweden’s biggest and most extensive marine archaeological excavations which took place during the years 1986 - 1993. Large quantities of old tea leaves and about 7 tons of chinese porcelain sherds were found. The public’s knowledge and interest in life during the 18th century increased. Joakim Severinsson prepared a reconstruction drawing.


Following in the footsteps of the excavation, a long line of exhibitions was given in Sweden and Asia. Literally millions of people around the globe, not least in China, have been fascinated by the findings and by the historical facts about the Swedish East India Company.

"Let us build a new "Götheborg" and set sail for China..."

Why don't we build a new East Indiaman and sail her to China and back again - hopefully this time without running aground? We’ll call her ´Göteborg´ III! This idea was born within the group of people working on the marine archaeological excavation.

The "Friends of the East Indiaman Götheborg"

It was presented to the Friends of the East Indiaman Götheborg in October 1992. The 'Friends' had been formed in 1987 in order to provide funds and support for the excavation of ‘Götheborg’ and the association now fully embraced the new vision. Money was soon collected to start the new project. A support that thereafter has never failed.

The foundation

The foundation of the East Indiaman Götheborg III was formed on 5th November 1993 and remains the leader of the project. The aim and field of action of the foundation is described in its rules and charter of foundation.


Later that year, on 28th December, the Friends donated the funds necessary for the foundation to register as a company The Swedish East India Company AB. The shares are owned by the foundation. The companies charter is to build the shipyard and the ship.


During the 18th century as few stopovers as possible were made. It was political considerations and the winds that determined the route. Today we have better possibilities to plan our trip. The ship will be equipped with such technology necessary to keep the time schedule. During the voyage Swedish industry, trade and culture will be presented.

Some of our historical destinations and stopovers were: Stockholm, Gothenburg, Helsingoer, Copenhagen, Marstrand, Stroemstad, Oslo, Bergen, Larvik, Dover, Ostende, Lorient, Cadiz, Madeira, St. Helena, Ascension, Fernando de Noronha, The Azores, Cape Town, Mauritius, Surat, Bengal, Johanna, Kedahl, Malakka, Batavia (Djakarta), Bantam (close to Singapore), Timan Island (Malaysia), Pulo Condore (Vietnam), Hainan (island south of China), Macao and Canton (Guangzhou).Map of the shipyard.

A virtual East Indiaman

Today Internet can be seen as the modern East Indiamen providing the world with inexpensive and fast communication. With you at the steering wheel you are welcome to travel the world with the virtual East Indiaman Gothenburg III. Click the satellite pictures or pick your starting point in the table below.

Follow the sail route - Click the satellite pictures


South Africa

South East Asia
North America


The project time schedule

The time schedule is based on an financial forecast. If the forecast changes, so will the time schedule.

The maiden voyage

Fully equipped and with a well trained crew, "Götheborg III" will leave for the first long voyage around the turn of the century. She will sail along the historical trade route and the goal is to revisit Canton in China. The trip is estimated to take about 18 months.
Some of the countries we have an historical connection to in this respect is among other Norway, Denmark, England, Scotland, Iceland, Germany, Belgium, Holland, France, Portugal, Spain, South Africa, India, Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, Vietnam, China, Japan, The Philippines, Thailand, Australia, New Zealand and USA.

The laying of the keel

Sören_Gyll The laying of the keel took place in front of 3.000 spectators on 11th June 1995. Two coins were placed in the joints of the 33 metre long keel. Professor Jörgen Weibull, the director of Volvo, Sören Gyll and the Rev. Alf Österström spoke.
To quote excerpts from Sören Gyll’s speech; "The level of determination and enthusiasm with which Volvo was founded is repeated yet again today in the building of ‘Götheborg III’. The significant cultural value of the wreck that foundered outside Älvsborgs Fästning 250 years ago has been clearly understood and exploited.
I am convinced that today’s ceremony will be the start of a most interesting project, an adventure that will become a major attraction for Gothenburg. I wish you all the best of luck."

Generalarr. 75K

The East Indiaman Götheborg III

Length: 40.90 metres.
Overall length: 58,8 metres.
Width: 11.00 metres.
Depth according to Sjöfs. 1993:3: 6.75 metres.
Height above the design line: 40,50 metres.
Sails area: 1 160 square meters.
Displacement on design line: 1.350 tons.
Crew: 80 men and women
Click here for a large picture.

"Götheborg III" will be a "special purpose ship" according to resolution A 534 (13). It will mainly be involved with research, but will also have the capacity to carry some cargo. The hull will be made of timber, about 75% oak and 25% pine. In order to provide enough strength, the frame-timbers will be made from laminated pine. The keel, stem, stern, beams, planks, trimmings and other framework details will be made from oak. The decks will be made of pine.

Joakim Severinsson is responsible for the construction and historical formation of the ship.The designs were approved by the classification society ´Det Norske Veritas´ in November 1995.

The hull

The hull will be constructed in accordance with such rules as apply and with as much historical accuracy as possible outboard as well as inboard above the free board deck. The hull will be divided into six waterproof sections in order to limit damage.
Beneath the free board deck no consideration to historical tradition needs to be taken but the design and materials used will still be in keeping. The deck machinery will be as historically correct as possible, and the aim is to run it manually. The ship will be ballasted to obtain the historically correct waterline.
Eric Lincoln is responsible for the technical systems of the ship.
She will carry 80 crew, officers and trainees, and 12 passengers.


The sails and the standing and running rigging will be made with traditional materials, mainly hemp. In the Göteborgs Remfabrik there is a loom preserved where sailcloth of the old type could be woven. On the Carlmarks Gamla Repslagarbana in Älvängen all cordage will be made by members of Föreningen Bevara Repslagarbanan. The masts and yards will be made of pine and spruce.

The shipyard TERRA NOVA

A new shipyard, the Terra Nova, has emerged by the old docks in Eriksberg. This is where the East Indiaman Götheborg III will be built and launched.

Visits and special arrangements

The premises contain a cinema with a permanent exhibition of the history of the Swedish East India Company and ‘Götheborg’s’ last trip and shipwreck in 1745. A slide show explains the adventure that is ‘Götheborg III’, from the days of the marine archaeological excavation up to the present plans for the future trip to Asia. There are also a small coffee shop and a souvenir shop. Visitors are encouraged to follow the work involved in building and equipping an East Indiaman. The shipyard can accommodate large groups of visitors, and guided tours are conducted every day.

The shipyard, exhibitions, coffee shop and souvenir shop are open at the following times: Monday to Friday 9-5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday 11-4 p.m.

Slide shows and guided tours; Mon-Fri. at 11, 1 and 3 o’clock. Saturdays and Sundays at 12 and 2 o’clock. The tour and slide show lasts about an hour.

Entry fee: SEK 60 per person, SEK 30 for children 10-18, toddlers and young children free if in the company of parents.

If you are a member of the "Friends of the East Indiaman Götheborg" you’ll only pay half the ticket price. Corporate members pay half price on one guided tour at one occation a year.

Groups: For large group bookings and special arrangements please call the reception on 031-779 34 50, fax 031-779 34 55 or send an email to the East Indiaman Götheborg III.

The shipyard hall during construction 1996

Do you want to participate?

During the years thousands of people corporations and organisations have volunteered time, knowledge, work, money and all kinds of supplies and equipment. Without a major general support this project would have been impossible. (See: Sponsors and benefactors). Still much work remains before the ship is build and the first world tour can commence. Click here if you want to know more about how you can participate!

Welcome to follow the old sailing route of the Swedish East India Company on Internet. (Nine clickable satellite pictures connected to sound and lots of links to friends all over the world.)


All opinions, ambitions and ideas that are expressed on this page with underlying pages has been written into the charter of the East Indiaman Gothenburg III Foundation and into the corporate charter of the company SOIC AB by the initiators of the project. The opinions expressed here does not despite this have to be those of the company or any of its employees. All text © Jan-Erik Nilsson and Anders Wästfelt 1984-1997.

Number of visitors on this site during 1997 c:a 17 280.


Official Telecom Operator Telia