Sunken 18th Century Russian Ship to Be Raised

MOSCOW, (RIA Novosti) — A Russian ship which sank in 1771 off the coast of Finland is to be raised, Russia’s cultural watchdog said.

The Dutch ship Vrouw Maria sank in the Baltic Sea in 1771 while carrying works of art bought by the Russian empress, Catherine the Great, in Amsterdam.

The ship’s cargo contained around 300 works of art, including paintings by Rembrandt, as well as jewelry, silverware, etchings and porcelain.

In 1999, the ship was discovered by Finnish explorers and the cargo was proclaimed the property of Finland, in line with international maritime law.

Experts said the cargo, which lay at a depth of 41 meters, was undamaged as it was wrapped in buckskin and kept in lead containers filled with wax.

The ship’s treasures, which could be worth millions of dollars, have remained a sore issue in Russian-Finnish relations. The Finnish government failed to begin salvage work immediately due to insufficient financing.

Russia’s Ministry of Culture, together with its Swedish partners, is to launch a joint operation to rescue the ship’s cargo.