The Wasa was built to represent the power and glory of the great King Gustave II of Sweden during a period when that country was considered to be one of the most important European states. She was planned to be one of the most powerful and beautiful warships ever to sail the seven seas.
After three years of construction by almost a thousand skilled craftsmen, the Wasa was launched on the tenth of October, 1628. She was outfitted with 64 cannons, measured 220 feet in length, had masts that were 150 feet high, and carried 10 sails totalling more than 4000 square meters.
Shortly thereafter, she left the port of Stockholm with her full complement of over 300 officers, crew members, and soldiers for her maiden journey. While crossing the port, an unexpected storm came up from the southwest, causing the vessel to roll heavily under a full spread of sail. Because she was lightly ballasted and carried an unusually heavy load of topside weight, both in weapons and in ornamentation, it was quickly determined that she was not in seaworthy condition. Within a matter of minutes she capsized and went down in over one hundred feet of water, with the loss of most of her complement. Lost with the great ship were more than a thousand golden sculptures.
She remained under water for more than three centuries. Finally, thanks to modern recovery techniques, she was salvaged by the Swedish government in 1958 (at a cost of $3 million). Fully restored she is now is on display back at her home port of Stockholm.