INDUSTRY NEWSSWEDISH DIVERS SURVEY BRITISH ANNIE SHIPWRECKA 19th-century British cargo steamer wreck, identified in the Baltic Sea last autumn, has been described as ‘relatively accessible for diving and basically untouched – which is likely to attract many divers to an amazing experience’. That’s according to marine archaeologists from Sweden’s Vrak shipwreck museum, currently undertaking a comprehensive survey of the shipwreck.

The 70-metre Annie, which is to be accorded ‘ancient relic’ status in Sweden, is described as having ‘a high cultural-historical value and great research potential’.

Built in Sunderland in 1877, the steamer was owned by Fredrick Gordon & Co. In 1891 she left Sweden’s northeastern Baltic city of Skellefteå carrying a cargo of timber bound for Sutton Bridge in Lincolnshire. What was later described as carelessness and navigational ambiguities resulted in the Annie running aground about 50 nautical miles south of her departure point, at Holmsund near Umeå. Extensive hull damage caused her to take in water, and she sank while under tow by a salvage steamer.

Last September the Norwegian Maritime Administration discovered the wreck at a depth of around 35m during a routine survey. Local scuba diver Mikael Rönnkvist and wreck researcher Simon Kenttä dived and were able to identify the upright ship. They found the name Annie both on the ship’s clock and the steering wheel, which was also marked ‘1877’ and ‘London’, and observed details that matched archival records.

The divers reported that the ship’s timbers had been well-preserved in the brackish sea water. Vrak’s underwater archaeologists have now been charged with devising a care and protection plan for the shipwreck. Survey dives will document and establish the wreck’s status and provide underwater images for 3D modelling.

Rönnkvist described the Annie as “like a 150-year-old museum that has been closed for the past 130 years”.