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The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

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Professor to lecture on sunken ship, nautical archaeology

Former nautical archaeology professor Fred Hocker and his peer, Olof Pipping, will deliver a lecture about the Vasa, a Swedish warship sunk in 1620 and raised from the sea in 1961.
“The water was pumped out of the hull and they took it to a dry dock and now it is a museum,” said Filipe Castro, professor of nautical archaeology in Hocker’s former position.
The museum was built to house the Vasa and was inaugurated in 1990, according to the museum’s Web site. It is the only 17th century ship in the world still intact.
“Last year it brought in $1 billion in tourism revenue for Sweden,” Castro said. “That shows not only how interesting and important the cultural heritage is, it’s important to us to understand who we are and where we came from, but it is also of economic importance.”
Hocker will discuss what kind of ship the Vasa was, how it sailed and the theories about how the ship sunk. Hocker is teaching and working at the Vasa museum in Sweden. It has been concluded that the ship did not sink because of a weak structure, but for other reasons.
The nautical archaeology program at A&M studies shipwrecks and offers a course on the rigging of ships. Hocker was invited to give this practical lecture on the Vasa and how it was operated in place of a normal class lecture.
“It’s going to be a lot more fun,” Castro said.
The program was started in 1976. Its ShipLAB is the leading laboratory for the excavation and conservation of sunken vessels in the world. Aggie archaeologists have excavated and reconstructed ships in countries around the world, and some are currently in Istanbul, Turkey studying eight sunken Byzantine ships.
“I don’t mean to brag, [but] this is the coolest program in the entire University,” Castro said. “Each one of these shipwrecks always tells a story that’s related to the history of humanity. They carry lots of people, cargo. They all had hopes and dreams and fears. It makes it always very interesting to study shipwrecks.”
They are preserving a vessel that a Frenchman in the late 1700s sailed, trying to lay claim to the mouth of the Mississippi River. Their work will be housed in a museum in Austin.
Where to hear:Hocker and Pipping will present 5:30 p.m. Wednesday in Room 204 of Evans Library.

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