This was a Dutch VOC ship built in 1724. In January 1725 the newly-built vessel sailed from Texel heading for Java, loaded with 19 chests of gold and silver. She went in convoy with two other ships, but drifted away in a storm, and sank off Runde, at Sunnmøre, on the Norwegian west coast. Of the 200 people onboard, there were no survivors.
The wreck site was close to the shore, and during the summer of 1725 four chests and other parts of the cargo were salvaged. But then the divers gave up, and the wreck was forgotten.
During the 19th century, locals often found coins at the shore. But the origin was already forgotten, so those finds fuelled an oral tradition that the coins would be from the Spanish Armada of the 16th century.
The golden find
The wreck was finally discovered in 1972 by scuba divers Bengt-Olof Gustafsson, Stefan Persson and Eystein Krohn-Dal. Below the bottom vegetation, the sand bottom was littered with encrusted coins. The following year, 1973 the site was investigated by Bergen Sjøfartsmuseum.
Little remained of the ship, but more than 500 kg gold and silver was salvaged. Totally, ca 57000 coins, 6600 of gold and the rest silver. Parts are at Bergen Sjøfartsmuseum and the Norwegian Coin Museum. The finders were allowed to keep two thirds of the treasure, which was later sold. The Norwegian state received 25% and the Netherlands received 7%. This event later initiated a new legislation, making all wrecks older than 100 years automatically protected.
Most of the 36 guns are still left on the site and may be viewed by recreational divers. After the ship hit the shore, it was sucked out by the current before sinking. Thus the guns are scattered along a trail from 3 m depth at the shore and 180 m out on 20 m depth, where the ballast stones also remain. According to one report, there are remains of an older wreck on the site, possibly identical to the Castello Negro, sunken in the 17th century – but that remains to be investigated.
The Akerendam wrecksite is open for recreational divers. Excursions are made by the diving centre "Runde Dykkersenter". The nearest diving club is "Herøy Dykkerklubb" in Fosnavåg.
Per Åkesson, October 2004
Photo by Nils Aukan of two guns on the site. Page rev apr '07
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