Swedish ship brings friendship to the shores

February 01, 2007 12:00 am | Updated September 27, 2016 10:26 pm IST

Karthik Subramanian

Bid to recreate the historic voyage by 18th century merchant ship

CHENNAI: Swedish ship Gotheborg, a wooden replica of an 18th century merchant ship that promoted trade between Europe and Asia, docked at the Chennai Port on Wednesday evening.

It is on a global voyage, retracing the historic trade route between Europe and Asia and at the same time promoting friendship and creating awareness of climate change.

It announced its arrival at the Dr.Ambedkar Dock in the Western Key of the port around 5 p.m. with a thunderous 11-round canon salute. The port authorities matched it with their gun salute. According to the organisers of the arrival ceremony, the 11-round salute was the traditional way of announcing that the ship had laid down its arms. The ship's captain Peter Kaaling was the first to step out of the vessel. He shook hands with the members of invitation committee that included Governor Surjit Singh Barnala, Union Minister T.R.Baalu, Swedish Deputy Prime Minister Maud Olofsson and Charge dAffairs of Embassy of Sweden Harald Falth. He declared that the only cargo of the merchant vessel was friendship. "At every port, we unload some of the friendship we gathered during our journey and take back some of your friendship."

The ship had set sail off the port of Gotheborg, the second biggest city of Sweden, in October 2005 in a bid to recreate the historic voyage carried out by the original East Indiaman merchant vessel of the 18th century. The Gotheborg had successfully carried out three voyages to China but had floundered off the harbour during its return journey from China on September 12, 1745.

The ship's remains were excavated from under the sea during 1986. The replica was carefully reconstructed using mostly the same materials that would have been used in 18th century ships.

The ship has already touched China and is now on its homeward journey. This is the eighth leg of the expedition. A crew of 10 Indians, including actor Revathy, boarded the ship at Singapore, its previous destination, and remained with the crew over the last 17 days. The ship will leave for Djibouti, a port city in Africa, after a 10-day halt here.

Stellan Mjardner, president of SOIC, the organisation that operates the ship, said the ship was built using environment-friendly materials such as oak, pine and hand-made ropes. "Much of the voyage is carried out on wind sails. This way we develop an appreciation to what our ancestors did."

Indo-Swedish ties

Ms. Olofsson said the Ship Gotheborg would help in furthering Indo-Swedish cooperation. She pointed out that the trade between the two countries had increased by 41 per cent in the previous year and the trend was sure to continue.

Mr. Barnala said Gotheborg's visit would pave the way for trade and cultural exchanges between India and Sweden. Mr. Baalu said it was fitting that the historic visit of the ship coincided with the 125th year celebrations of the Chennai Port Trust. Some leading companies from Sweden have put up stalls at the Port highlighting trade opportunities.

The public will be allowed to visit the ship between 1 p.m. and 6 p.m. on February 3, 5, 6 and 7.

The visiting fee per adult will be Rs.50. Children will be allowed free of cost but will be restricted to two children per adult.

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