VOC ship sunk off the coast of England in 1740 to be investigated

Coins salvaged from the Rooswijk were sold on Ebay in 2007

A Dutch ship laden with chests of silver which sunk off the coast of England in 1740 is to be partly excavated and its cargo recovered, the education ministry said on Tuesday.

The Rooswijk was a VOC ship and sunk close to the Goodwin Sands sandbank on its way to Asia in a heavy storm. The ship had a crew of some 350 and was laden with silver and coins to trade.

The wreck is now threatened by shifts in the current and a project to extract sand from the area, the Telegraaf said on Tuesday. The Netherlands and England have therefore decided to carry out a proper survey of the ship and its spoils, which will take place from July 1 to October.

Education minister Jet Bussemaker said there is increasing awareness of the importance of wrecks as part of the Dutch identity. Wrecks, she said, are ‘time capsules’ full of stories.

‘The two century history of the VOC is part of our collective memory, including all we are proud of, but also what we are now ashamed of,’ she said.

Divers first found and explored the wreck in 2004. In 2005, they recovered one thousand bars of silver, gold coins and a mustard jar which were given to the Dutch government.


The Verenigde Oost-Indische Compagnie or VOC (Dutch East India Company) was established in 1602 when it was given a 21-year monopoly to trade with Asia. It went on to trade throughout Asia for two centuries before being dissolved in 1798.

The VOC is often described as the world’s first multinational corporation and was also the first company to issue stocks.