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SHIPWRECK

Divers find 18th-century Danish warship

Divers in Denmark have located a warship that sank near the island of Læsø 238 years ago.

Divers find 18th-century Danish warship
Parts of of the wreckage under the sea near Læsø. Photo: HANDOUT/Undervandsgruppen.dk/Ritzau Scanpix

The 52-metre, 70-cannon Printz Friederich went down with almost 500 men on board during a storm on September 30th, 1780.

A diving team named Undervandsgruppen (The Underwater Group) has worked to locate the wreck for over ten years.

“We’ve sailed 2,500 nautical miles and combed 100 square kilometres of seabed. We were ready to give up because we thought we weren’t going to find it,” the team’s leader Kim Schmidt told Ritzau.

“This ship was overlooked a little. After 1781, no one gave it a second thought,” Schmidt said.

Divers from the group have recovered a number of objects from the shipwreck, including a lead plate with a royal crown and some lead cannon balls.

Authorities will now decide whether to recover more objects from the sunken ship.

Almost all of the ship’s 500-strong crew were rescued after it ran aground and sank. Between 6-8 men are thought to have died.

“The sinking was a complete disaster for the Danish navy, since the ship constituted one fifth of the fleet,” Schmidt said.

The ship was engaged in a mission when it ran aground in stormy weather.

“The captain was taken ill and the first mate was in charge. The ship was blown completely off course, and they had no idea where they were. They could not see landmarks or stars to navigate by,” Schmidt said.

But boats sent from the nearby island of Læso were able to save the majority of the people on board after the ship went down.

“It was quite turbulent for the people of Læsø. They had to find food and shelter for 500 people. Many were given lodgings with single women, and that resulted in a lot of descendents (from the crew),” the diving team leader said.

The story of the Printz Friederich shipwreck is to be featured at Læsø Museum, Ritzau writes.

READ ALSO: Wreckage of German WW2 ship found in seas north of Denmark

VIKING

How a Viking king inspired one of our best-known modern technologies

A Swede and American tell the story of how they hatched the idea for the moniker 'Bluetooth' over beers.

A Danish 16th-century paining of Viking king Harald Bluetooth
A Danish 16th-century paining of Viking king Harald Bluetooth. Photo: Wikimedia Commons/Public domain

At the end of the 1990s, Sven Mattisson, a Swedish engineer working at telecom group Ericsson, and Jim Kardach, an American employed by Intel, were among those developing the revolutionary technology.

In 1998, at the dawn of the “wireless” era, the two men were part of an international consortium that created a universal standard for the technology first developed by Ericsson in 1994.

But prior to that, they had struggled to pitch their wireless products. Intel had its Biz-RF wireless programme, Ericsson had MC-Link, while Nokia had its Low Power RF. Kardach, Mattisson and others presented their ideas at a seminar in Toronto in late 1997.

“Jim and I said that people did not appreciate what we presented,” Mattisson, now 65 and winding down his career at Ericsson, recalled in a recent interview with AFP.

The engineer, who had travelled all the way to Canada from Sweden for the one-hour pitch, decided to hang out with Kardach for the evening before flying home.

“We received a lukewarm reception of our confusing proposal, and it was at this time I realised we needed a codename for the project which everyone could use,” Kardach explained in a long account on his webpage.

‘Chauvinistic story’

To drown their sorrows, the two men headed for a local Toronto bar and ended up talking about history, one of Kardach’s passions. “We had some beers… and Jim is interested in history so he asked me about Vikings, so we talked at length about that,” said Mattisson, admitting that his recollection of that historic night is now somewhat foggy.

Kardach said all he knew about Vikings was that they ran “around with horned helmets raiding and looting places, and that they were crazy chiefs.”

Mattisson recommended Kardach read a well-known Swedish historical novel about the Vikings, entitled “The Long Ships”.

Set in the 10th century – “a chauvinistic story” about a boy taken hostage by Vikings, says Mattisson – one name in the book caught Kardach’s attention: that of the king of Denmark, Harald “Bluetooth” Gormsson.

A Bluetooth adapter from 2004. Photo: Stefan Gustavsson/SvD/TT

Unification

An important historic figure in Scandinavia in the 10th century, the king of Denmark’s nickname is said to refer to a dead tooth, or, as other tales have it, to his liking for blueberries or even a simple translation error.

During his reign, Denmark turned its back on its pagan beliefs and Norse gods, gradually converting to Christianity.

But he is best known for having united Norway and Denmark in a union that lasted until 1814.

A king who unified Scandinavian rivals – the parallel delighted those seeking to unite the PC and cellular industries with a short-range wireless link.

And the reference to the king goes beyond the name: the Bluetooth logo, which at first glance resembles a geometric squiggle, is in fact a superimposition of the runes for the letters “H” and “B”, the king’s initials.

Low-cost and with low power consumption, Bluetooth was finally launched in May 1998, using technology allowing computer devices to communicate with each other in short range without fixed cables.

The first consumer device equipped with the technology hit the market in 1999, and its name, which was initially meant to be temporary until something better was devised, became permanent.

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