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stepping stones of maritime history

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Historical description

Vlissingen was a merchant vessel that sailed between the Netherlands and the East Indies for the Dutch East India Company (VOC) during the first half of the 18th century. She left for her fifth journey to the East from Rammekens in 1747. She carried a crew of 214 men, but she was lost between the Holland and the Cape. It is possible that the ship was lost because she was in poor condition due to her former voyages, and most of her crew was sick, which could also have contributed. It is most likely that these factors combined with bad weather and sunk Vlissengen, but after it was realized that she would never reach her destination, there were rumors back home that the ship had exploded. As none of her crew were ever seen again, these rumors are unfounded.

She was later found near Meob Bay in Namibia.

Map of Africa. (Source: atlas of mutual heritage).

Archaeological description

The wreck site of Vlissingen was found in the early 1990's after some coins from the wreck were found in the beach of Meob Bay, which instigated a search for the wreck.

In 1993 the Meob Bay Shipwreck was initiated, and several surveys have been done since on the wreck site. The first survey yielded 928 items from the wreck, most of which were coins found scattered throughout the bay, however no specific location of the wreck was found. More fieldwork has been planned for the site in the future, which will hopefully provide more insight into the ship and her artifacts.


Type: Dutch East Indiaman (spiegelretourschip)

Name: Vlissingen

Master: Adriaan Kakelaar

Complement: 214

Built: 1732

Yard: Zeeland

Chamber: VOC Zeeland

Tonnage: 650, 325 last

Length: 130 (Amsterdam) feet

Model of Ship Gerechtigheid from the same period as Vlissingen.

East Indiaman

Roman structures