Expedition to 18th-century shipwreck

The Gothenburg ran aground in Iceland in 1718.

The Gothenburg ran aground in Iceland in 1718.

Plans are being made to mount an expedition to recover chains, cannon and ballast from the Danish warship Gothenburg, which sunk a short distance from the estuary of Ölfusá river in South Iceland in 1718.

Behind the initiative are Guðbrandur Jónsson and the Icelandic Old Boat Association. According to Jónsson, the technical gear for the expedition and search is available – the group is now looking to the municipal authorities of the area to assist by lending them a vessel and other necessary equipment.

It is thought that any finds from the ship could be extremely valuable and Jónsson hopes that they will be displayed in a museum in the town of Þorlákshöfn.

There are, however, legal obstacles to overcome as under Icelandic law individuals and associations may search for archaeological artefacts only with an official permit from the Cultural Heritage Agency of Iceland and in the presence of a certified archaeologist.

The Gothenburg was on its way back to Denmark from Iceland in a convoy of merchant ships, when a great storm struck and the ship was separated from the rest. After over a week battling the storm off Iceland with a broken mast, it ran aground.

Over 150 were rescued from the Gothenburg in one of the biggest rescue operations in Icelandic history, while various sources set the number of fatalities at just 4-8.

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