The representatives of the Russian Federation are to explore the wreck of the Dutch ship, the Vrouw Maria, which sank in Finnish waters in the latter part of the 18th century. The wreck was found at a depth of 40 metres by a group of divers in the summer of 1999.
The National Board of Antiquities started diving into the wreck yesterday.
The Vrouw Maria sank in the waters off Nauvo on October 3rd 1771, while en route from Amsterdam to St. Petersburg.
In the cargo holds of the Dutch two-masted merchant ship there are believed to be works of art that the Russian Empress Catherine the Great had bought at auction in Amsterdam. Viktor Petrakov, the Head of the Department for the Preservation of Cultural Property, is one of the Russian delegates participating in the excursion organised by the Ministry of Education.
Another member in the delegation is Russian millionaire Artem Tarasov, who heads the Russian Rescue of National Cultural and Historic Valuables Fund.
Russia has informed both Finland’s President and Foreign Minister of its willingness to take part in the Vrouw Maria project in Finland.
Over the past few years, Russia and Finland have arranged a number of expert meetings on the project.
Russia hopes that the Vrouw Maria could be raised from the bottom of the Baltic Sea and that it would be turned into a museum. Russia has also noted that it has already arranged private funding to cover the cost of the raising, restoration, and displaying of the vessel.