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stepping stones of maritime history


Historical description

Bredenhof sailed as a merchant vessel for the

Dutch East India Company (VOC) between

Patria and the East Indies in the mid-18th

century. She was lost on the 6th of June 1753

off thecoast of Mozambique when she became

caught in currents and struck a reef. She was

making her third voyage to the east, and was

bound for Ceylon and Bengalen to trade her

cargo of silver for spices.

Bredenhof had just begun her journey to the east

from the Cape of Good Hope when she ran into

treacherous waters and struck a reef. By order

of the captain, Jan Nielson, the ship's silver bars

were thrown overboard to prevent the crew from

plundering the ship. The gold carried on board

was saved, however. At the time, Bredenhof

carried between 230-251 men, who formed

separate groups in an attempt to reach land in

rafts. Only half of the crew made it alive. Most

of the remaining men eventually made it back

to the Netherlands on other Dutch ships.

Collection of copper coins from Bredenhof. Source:

Archaeological description

Although efforts were made to recover the

lost silver as early as the 1750's, the wreck

site wasn't discovered until 1986. The site

was discovered in the Mozambique channel

and excavated by an international dive team

led by Ernst Klaar and Gavin Clackworthy.

The team collected the silver from the site

as well as 14 barrels of copper coins, 5,000

golden ducates, 15cannons, and 5 anchors.

Items found during the excavation were sold

at auction in Christie's in Amsterdam.

Picture from the Auction at Christie.


Name: Bredenhof

Type: Dutch East Indiaman (Spiegelretourschip)

Master: Jan Nielson

Built: 1746

Yard: Hoorn

Chamber: VOC Hoorn

Tonnage: 425 last, 850 ton

Lenth: 136 feet

Complement: 221-250

Silver bar from the Bredenhof. Source:

Example of an East Indiaman

East Indiaman

Roman structures