Lelystad (NL) – 30 October 2019 – By special invite of Mr Arent Vos, AIMURE board members Mr Harry Gerritsen and Dr Bruno Werz were given a special treat recently. For a full day they were allowed access to the Batavia wharf (Batavialand) and the reconstruction of the 17 th century VOC ship ‘Batavia’ that foundered off the Australian coast in 1629.

Mr Vos is a maritime archaeological researcher and specialist on ship construction methods. He is one of the key persons that stood at the cradle of maritime archaeological research in the Netherlands. Currently an official of the Dutch state department of cultural heritage (RCE), he is based at the Batavia wharf in Lelystad. 

During the visit, Mr Vos and Bruno Werz compared notes on the development of maritime archaeology in both the Netherlands and South Africa. One of the sad conclusions is that the formerly internationally known Netherlands Institute for Ship and underwater Archaeology (NISA) with its many specialists and facilities and wich Bruno Werz himself last visited some 15 years ago does not exist anymore because of political choices. Nevertheless, with recent developments in the search for ‘Haarlem’, both researchers agree that new impetus can be stimulated in both countries. 

‘Batavia’ and ‘Haarlem’ were both constructed at the Amsterdam shipyard of the VOC only a few years apart. Both ships were of the same class or ‘charter’, with a length of about 45 metres and a width of 10 metres. During the first half of the 1980’s, a project to reconstruct ‘Batavia’ started under the guidance of a shipwright. The project provided skills and temporary employment for a variety of people. 

With the life-size reconstruction completed, this currently provides an excellent comparison as to what can be expected once the wreck of ‘Haarlem’ is located and excavated. At the end of the visit, Mr Vos expressed his interest and willingness to cooperate in the ‘Haarlem’ Project, by providing expert advice on especially ship construction methods. He is also looking forward to contribute to the production of the television documentary that is currently taking place. 

With a behind the scene visit to the extensive depot for excavated archaeological objects from shipwrecks, our busy but most rewarding day ended. 

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