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The wreck of an Irish sailing ship from 1721 has been found in Norway.

Listen to this article In the North Sea waters surrounding the southern coast of Norway, near Mandal, a group of divers have found the wreck of a lost Irish schooner from the 18th century. The ship that has been found is the sailing vessel The Providentz, which sank in rather peculiar circumstances. According to information
Published: January 29, 2021 - 09:00
Updated: July 22, 2023 - 21:55
The wreck of an Irish sailing ship from 1721 has been found in Norway.
Listen to this article

In the North Sea waters surrounding the southern coast of Norway, near Mandal, a group of divers have found the wreck of a lost Irish schooner from the 18th century.

The ship that has been found is the sailing vessel The Providentz, which sank in rather peculiar circumstances. According to information available in historical archives, the Irish ship, sailing from Cork, went down despite calm seas and favourable weather, because the entire crew was… drunk.

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Bottle from a sailing shipwreck North Sea
One of the many bottles the divers found around the wreck photo Erling Tønnessen

Or at least that is the version found in the surviving testimonies of the pilot. The drunken crew approached the coast, where the vessel eventually ran aground. Fortunately, everyone on board was rescued. What is more, the ship’s anchor, sails and rigging were also retrieved.

sunken wreck of a sailing ship from 1721
The wreck of Providentz is partly covered by sand and is therefore very well preserved photo Erling Tønnessen

I noticed some kind of wooden structure. I did not pay much attention to it, but I followed my eyes along the bottom suddenly I saw a clay jug. Then Einar rushed towards me with a bottle, and when we looked at Ragnvald he waved at us like a madman. After a few exciting minutes we realised that we had found the Provident,” said Erling Tønnessen, board member of the Mandal Dive Club

Finding the wreck of The Providentz is no accident. As Erling Tønnessen stated, the search for the lost sailing ship had been going on for 30 years! Finally they succeeded and at the end of December 2020 a group of divers found the wreck in the shallows, where it has been resting since November 1721 partially covered by sand and silt at a depth of only 6 metres.

The wreck is intact. There are lots of beautiful and completely intact objects that lie quite close together. It’s amazing to come across something like this! – said diver Ragnvald Eeg in an interview with NRK television

Members of the Mandal Dive Club, with the help of diver-archeologist and researcher Jørgen Johannessen from the Norwegian Maritime Museum, have collected a number of artefacts from the Providentz wreck. Among them are a large clay pot, a chalk pipe, bottles and porcelain.

The Providentz sailing shipwreck Norway
Wreck of the Irish sailing ship The Providentz photo: Erling Tønnessen

We realise that such finds are very attractive to looters who specialise in stealing wrecks, but at the same time we think it is important that divers can go underwater and see such wrecks with their own eyes,” said Frode Kvalø, archaeologist at the Norwegian Maritime Museum.

A sign has been placed next to the 300-year-old wreck of the Providentz indicating that it is a monument. According to museum officials, anyone who decides to undertake illegal activities in the area, such as the excavation of artefacts, will not be able to defend ignorance by claiming that they did not realise the area was protected.

Sign set underwater on a sailing shipwreck
A sign on the seabed informing that the area is protected photo: Erling Tønnessen

No one has been here since the ship sank and everything is incredibly well preserved. There are few ships of this type in such good condition as this one, which makes this find unique,” commented Johannessen

It is worth mentioning that Mandal Dive Club is one of the largest and most active diving clubs in Norway. It has more than 100 members, who for decades have been passionate about searching for and discovering wrecks and have had many successes in this field. Finding the wreck of the sailing ship The Providentz is just one of them.

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About author

Tomasz Andrukajtis
Editor-in-chief of the DIVERS24 portal and magazine. Responsible for obtaining, translating and developing content. He also supervises all publications. Achived his first diving certification – P1 CMAS, in 2000. Has a degree in journalism and social communication. In the diving industry since 2008.
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