On Thursday, March 10, 2011, at a joint press conference in Stockholm, Sweden, the Vasa Museum and Sandvik announced a unique research and development cooperation agreement for an essential bolt replacement project to commence on the famous Vasa ship, in order to preserve the 17th century vessel's structural integrity well into the future.
The cooperation will see the replacement of 5,000 iron bolts, originally installed in the 1960's, with unique bolts in highly advanced stainless steels from Sandvik, normally used within the demanding oil/gas-industry. It was brought about by the discovery that the original bolts were reacting with the atmosphere and consequently causing chemical erosion, which was damaging the historic woodwork of Vasa. The project is the culmination of two years' cooperation with Sandvik Materials Technology's R&D-specialists to devise a replacement strategy and identify and evaluate suitable materials for the very specific application.
To mark the cooperation there was a symbolic exchange of one of the original wrought iron bolts and a new stainless steel bolt between Robert Olsson, Director General, Statens Maritima Museer, and Peter Gossas, President of Sandvik Materials Technology.
"Working with Sandvik ensures state-of-the-art technological expertise within the area of materials technology," says Dr Marika Hedin, Vasa Museum Director. "Since the warship Vasa is a Swedish national treasure, we can only use the very best materials available in our quest to preserve her, which we aim to do for 1,000 more years.
"Only Sandvik has the material, the equipment and the technical know-how to help us with this. They have already been resourceful and innovative in helping us develop the re-bolting process, a cooperation which will continue to evolve over the next five years.
"It is interesting that Vasa in her time, the early 17th century, was an example of maritime engineering at the forefront of human knowledge. In fact, the engineering was so advanced that she was extremely difficult to sail - one of the contributing factors to her sinking. Salvaging her in 1961 was also something of an engineering triumph.
"And now, we put Sandvik and their extremely advanced materials technology to work on the ship - so in a sense the story of this ship has always been tied in with current state-of-the-art technology."
During the first year, the cooperation will see 1,000 bolts replaced and these will all be carefully monitored to assess and evaluate the movement and stresses within the vessel.
Commenting, Peter Gossas, President of Sandvik Materials Technology says, "Being able to play such a significant role in helping to preserve an irreplaceable national treasure such as Vasa is a privilege for us. It showcases the extensive material engineering expertise that we, as a Swedish company, have at our disposal.
"It is fitting that we are able to supply today's leading edge materials technology to help preserve innovative marine technology from the 17th century. It is a tribute to Swedish technology through the ages and will be a lasting one for years to come, for all to enjoy."
Coincidentally, the announcement of the cooperation comes just before the 50th Anniversary of when Vasa broke the surface in Stockholm harbour back in April 1961. This Anniversary will be celebrated from April and throughout 2011. And next year, 2012, Sandvik will celebrate its 150th Anniversary.
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