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Hungarian divers find 17th-century Dutch ship near Brazil

VOC flyboat Voetboog rediscovered

Tags: Excerpts from the Windmill

BUDAPEST - A team of Hungarian marine archaeologists has found the wreckage of a Dutch cargo ship, which sank near the Brazilian coast over three centuries ago.

Voetboog was a three-masted flyboat, which left the port of Batavia (now Jakarta) for The Netherlands with a 109-member crew on board.

Owned by the Dutch East India Company VOC, the Fluyt ship carried silk, spices, tea, Japanese and Chinese porcelain as well as nearly 180,000 pieces of Dutch golden ducats. The archaeologists estimate the value of the wreckage at about 1 billion dollars.

Sailing on the Atlantic Ocean, the ship was likely caught by a storm and its only survival chance would have been to stay close to the Brazilian coast. For reasons unknown, however, it sank near the coast of Pernambuco State on May 29, 1700.

The team of Octopus Association for Marine Archaeology found the wreckage in October 2008 but announced news of the discovery only after the first phase of examinations was completed. The objects found in the depths suggest that it is indeed the wreckage of Voetboog, which is lying on the seabed covered by several metres of sediment. The ship has virtually disintegrated.

The finds will be brought to surface and conserved in line with Brazilian law.