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Fire Fighting Vasa style

Today we visited the museum and my husband was able to help out by solving a carpentry mystery for the research team. Thanks to Fred and his team for their interest and for being so welcoming.

We have a question that has annoyed us since we left the museum and someone might be able to clear it up. We read that the scuppers were plugged to keep water on the deck, to help thwart fire - was this on all decks and what was the evidence that lead to the comment?


  • In the instructions issued to captains in the Swedish blockade of Poland in 1628, the admiral, Henrik Flemming, instructed them to put out all fires on board, especially the galley, and to wet down all areas that might be flammable. One of his specific instructions was to plug the scuppers and pump water into the gundecks until they were four inches deep. This would not be possible on Vasa, because the deck rises so much towards the ends. One could create a puddle four inches deep along the middle of each side, but the crown of the deck is about 6 inches, so only a small patch would have water sloshing around. Either Flemming did not understand what he was ordering, or we are missing something in his letter, but it seems a pretty clear instruction. One of our unsolved mysteries!

    Fred Hocker Research Director, Ship Unit, Ph.D.
    Didier Linder

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