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The Eric Nordevall II

The position of the wreck E.Nordevall. Chart by Mikko Rautala. The Maritime Museum of Finland/The National Board of Antiquities.

The wreck of the E. Nordevall on the flat bottom of deep Lake Vättern. Painting by Reinhard Grosch. Drawing Forsvik varv.

The locating of the wreck of the paddle steamer E. Nordevall (1836 - 1856) in 1980, and the developments concerning its preservation and visualization 1980 - 2001

In 1980 scuba divers located the wreck of the paddle steamer E. Nordevall on the bottom of a large lake called Vättern in the central part of southern Sweden. The vessel was built at Hammarsten´s shipyard in the town of Norrköping in 1836-1837 and launched in 1837. It was built for traffic on the Göta Canal across Sweden. The canal had been opened in its full length just five years earlier.

The ship represents the first generation of steam ships in Europe in general use. This ship type was originally developed in Scotland for traffic on rivers and river estuaries in the 1820's. Daniel Frazer, a Scottish engineer, who was the technical leader of Motala Verkstad at the time, designed the two side-lever-engines in the vessel. Motala Verkstad was one of the first mechanical factories in Sweden, and of dominant importance for the development of marine steam engines and shipbuilding of the 19th century.

The E. Nordevall was designed by one of Sweden's best-known ship designers at the time, a naval officer called Johan Gustaf von Sydow. The E. Nordevall was commissioned by a shipping company who wanted to start steam ship traffic on the Göta Canal. The vessel was named after engineer Erik Nordevall (1783-1835). He was one the most prominent technicians in canal and lock building in Sweden in the late 18th and early 19th centuries, and he constructed and built many of the locks at Trollhättan and Södertälje, both part of the Göta Canal.

The paddle steamer E. Nordevall was and still is uniquely well preserved on the flat and calm bottom of the fresh water Lake Vättern. At the time when the ship was located the main part of the exterior was still intact and the interior was in the same state of preservation as it was when the ship sank about 150 years earlier. The situation is due to the favourable preservation conditions in fresh water environments of this kind.

During the 1980's, the E. Nordevall was subject to extensive investigation and recording. The Swedish National Maritime Museum performed extensive photographical and film documentation on the site at the depth of 45 meters during the years 1985-1989. This was done in co-operation with several other parties such as the Göta Canal Company of today, the unit of Diving Technique at Chalmers University of Technology in Gothenburg, the Östergötland County, and the Central Office of National Antiquities in Stockholm.

The Swedish Ancient Monuments Act protects the wreck of the E. Nordevall because the vessel foundered more than one hundred years ago.

One of the aims of the underwater recording was to investigate whether it was possible to salvage and preserve the unique paddle steamer in a museum on land. The investigations resulted in an estimation of the salvage costs, a proposal of a museum building in the town of Motala on the eastern side of Lake Vättern, and also an investigation of the appropriate salvage and excavation techniques. The bodies and organizations to which the results of these investigations were remitted met them very positively. The necessary resources were on the other hand not available.

In the course of the investigations, one could on the basis of the extensive photo and film recordings of the 1980's observe that the wreck was deteriorating. It was evident that it had become a popular site for leisure and tourism diving and that this had resulted in pilfering of objects and the tearing down of parts of the vessel's superstructure. In the late 1990's, the county administration had to prohibit diving on the site in order to hinder future deterioration.

Registration period for the Portsmouth Seminar over.