When Captain Nemo was to build his underwater ship Nautilus for his world voyage under the sea, he had parts from the 19th century then leading tool companies used. He therefore ordered the frame for the Nautilus from "les ateliers de Motala, en Suède" - or todays still existing company AB Motala Verkstad.
Even though Jules Verne's story " 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea” from 1870 is fiction, it says something about Motala's importance during the latter part of the 19th century.
AB Motala workshop was founded in 1822 on the initiative of Baltzar von Platen.
It was here that the S/S Sprängaren (“The Blower”) were designed and constructed during the First World war.
During the beginning of the 20th century, there were many in Sweden who considered that the country's naval defense was woefully neglected. This resulted in the so-called Pansarbåt (Battleship)-collection being started by Bishop Manfred Björkkvist. The Swedish willingness to contribute was great and resulted in the construction of the Pansarbåten Sverige and there was money left over. Some of that was used to build three Minesweepers.
The need for minesweepers were enormous. The war in the Baltic Sea, was a war of sea-blockade – with mines – and about 170.000 mines were laid and the major part of them are still there today. These three first ships of their kind could lay, sweep and retrieve mines, defend themselves with a 57 mm/M16 cannon, , tow and break ice. The commission to build the ships went to Motala Verkstad and – S/S Sökaren, S/S Sveparen and S/S Sprängaren, were launched in 1917 and delivered in 1918.
S/S Vedettbåten (patrol-/picket boat) Sprängaren is built with riveted steel hull. Length: 27,73 m, Breadth: 6,84 m, Depth: 3,40m. Deadweight is 212 tons with full stone coal storage, Gross 168 tonnes, Net 24 tonnes.
The ship is powered by a two-cylinder compound steam engine of 400 indicated horsepower, which in case of forced firing can develop 470 indicated horsepower. It was originally equipped with a water-tube boiler, but in connection with the rebuilding in 1939, it was replaced with a fire-tube boiler. The boiler has been fully renovated during the last decade with two new furnaces and 184 fire-tubes installed and hand pressed in place. The first fire was lit 23 April 2022 and the first manometer needle lift – after nearly 50 years’ standstill were taking place.
The last thing S/S Sprängaren did in the Navy, 1959 – 1961, was that she participated in the salvage of the Regal Ship Wasa, which sank on 10 August 1628. Today both ships share the same dock and pier at Djurgården in Stockholm, Sweden.
On the 3rd and 4th September 2022, the first sea trials were successfully completed with S/S Vedettbåten Sprängaren under way, with its own machinery operating and without any problems.
The plan for S/S Vedettbåten Sprängaren, is to be open to visitors at the museum pier Djurgården, Stockholm open daily May – September with free admission. Furthermore, it will be possible to go along as a passenger on tours in Stockholm's archipelago April – October, visiting historical Naval installations. But the ship will also to be a place of training for young people and adults in seamanship, naval conduct and handling of a larger ship with its maneuvering, navigation, sailors’ work and maintenance of steam boiler and steam machinery from the early twentieth century.
As the only remaining seagoing Naval warship from the First World War in the world, the S/S Vedettbåten Sprängaren is a cultural heritage that shows both the technology and history of the early twentieth century.
Write-up courtesy of Eva Helmerson