The Project

VOC ship Amsterdam

The Amsterdam is a Dutch East India Company (VOC) ship built in 1748 in Amsterdam. She departed on her maiden voyage fully laden with goods and provisions to last her nine month long journey to Asia. In January 1749, during a raging storm, she ran aground near the coast of Hastings in the southern England.

To this day she remains there, under the water in the surf zone of the beach. Visible only during the lowest of seasonal tides, the Amsterdam is our best preserved and original 18th-century VOC-ship. Her hull is 45m long and 21m wide and remains intact up to the lower deck as the keel is situated 7 m deep under the sand.

Reflecting the business and trade relations Amsterdam

Between 1984 and 1986, a preliminary examination of the site by underwater archaeologists revealed that the Amsterdam still contains tens of thousands of objects. These include goods for trade, equipment and the crew’s personal possessions, their origins traceable to almost every European country. These artefacts are a perfect example of how the city of Amsterdam involved herself in the production activities and trade relations at the time.

Furthermore, not only was the cargo European but so was the crew. The captain was Latvian and aside from the Dutch travelling to Asia, there were Germans, Danes, Swedes, Poles, inhabitants from the Baltic states and a smattering of Italians and Frenchmen.

Initiative Foundation VOC-ship Amsterdam

Imagine that in the near future, the general public could have access to this incredible wreck. The VOC-ship Amsterdam Foundation has taken up this initiative and develops together with Dutch and British partners a plan to present the entire hull along with its contents in an aquarium, the largest of its kind in the world. There, as visitors look on, divers will excavate the ship and discover the archaeological mysteries which are hidden within the Amsterdam.

Researching this 18th-century ship will shed light on many of aspects of the past. Travel and discovery, encounter and diplomacy, exchange and influence, slavery and exploitation, mixed marriages and immigration and of course the VOC’s raison d’être: trade and profit. In fact, the Amsterdam will literally expose the history of globalisation and the international society of the Netherlands of today.