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When the Vasa was built in 1628, it was the most powerful warship on earth. It was built during the transition from an era of naval combat were you swung aboard an enemy ship with pistols blazing and cutlasses slashing to a era of ships of the line.
It was the first warship to be fitted with two gun decks, by having two gun decks it (a total of 64 24lbs guns) could devastate enemy vessels at a range but also carried a full complement of marines. The Vasa was designed to be fast and deadly, however the designer and shipwright made some major construction miscalculations. Perhaps the major mistake was putting to many very heavy guns on the upper gun deck. Later ships would utilize smaller guns on the upper decks to help stabilize the vessels. Later shipwrights would also use more ballast. One event that should have tipped the captain and sailors off as to the ships instability was the fact that when the stability test was preformed (thirty sailors ran back and forth on the deck) the ship almost capsized and the sailors were told to stop after only three rounds.
Despite the fact that the ship had been proven unstable she still set sail. The reason for this was because the king, Gustav II Adolf, needed to have as many warships as possible available for battle. If the King had not been so involved in his war he probably would have overseen the construction and prevented the disaster. Historians contend that the major contributing factor to the sinking of the Vasa was that the captain was sailing with open gun ports and because of this water rushed into the open gun ports and caused the vessel to destabilize resulting in the calamitous capsizing.
Because of the exceptionally well preserved state of the ships hull the Vasa could be removed from the ocean before being excavated. There are many contributing factors to the almost pristine condition of the Vasa and her artifacts. The foremost being the lack of shipworms and the low salinity levels and frigid waters of in the Baltic sea.