Götheborg III Project Objectives 1993

Based on a near ten-year marine archaeological survey of the in 1745 lost East Indiaman Gotheborg, we will with this as a model build and equip a ship, to its lines, rigging and hull corresponding to a mid 18th century Swedish East Indiaman, and with this ship carry out a trade and research trip to China and back.

The public and the participating companies and organizations will be offered activities during construction, travel and after the return of the ship.

We will strive towards fulfilling four main objectives:

1. Culture

All Swedish companies and organizations with an interest in trade and relations with the countries along the route is thus offered the opportunity to exploit the project's goodwill and in a spectacular and unique way reconnect with our historically peaceful and mutually beneficial relations.

Around shipbuilding, shipyard and voyage, a market organization will be created, with customers from private and public business and organizations in Sweden, in China and from nations along the 18th century historic trade route to Asia.

The East India Trade of the 18th century created venture capital for industrial investment and promoted artistic, cultural, philosophical and scientific impulses between participating countries. Trade and exchange enriched and stimulated.

2. Skills

In western Sweden, a variety of unique skills related to shipbuilding, wood processing, forging, rust protection, coating, mold protection, rope-making, sail making, rigging, sailing, navigation etc. have been preserved as practical skills and in oral traditions. The knowledge is passed on from master to apprentice only as long as there are items to apply the knowledge on.

To once again build a fully rigged sailing ship of traditional materials and with historically correct rig set very high standards in craftsmanship. It will provide opportunities to the few experts that still hold these unique skills alive and allow new ones to take over.

The East Indiaman Gotheborg is a worldwide project. To accomplish this, we need new skills in mainly three areas, from the most forward thinking to the most practical imaginable: international communication and marketing, rigging and shipbuilding and for sailing, navigation, logistics, and communications during the journey.

To meet modern maritime safety requirements within an historic construction, new technology will be developed in collaboration with a number of established partners. The final product - an sailing East Indiaman built of wood - will then be tested under the most challenging conditions imaginable, a long voyage around the Cape of Good Hope to Asia and back.

3. Labour

An extensive international cooperation around Europe to reassemble old skills and top-quality materials, trees, fibers, etc. that will have to be found, is almost certainly necessary.

This cultural work will help establish new industries and to create jobs by the reinvention of high quality, traditional crafts. Through the East Indiaman Gotheborg project a variety of old and new expertise might find new use and new markets.

4. Science and Trade

At its core, the project was about fostering positive relations with China and countries along the sailing route. It was a public endeavor, initiated and supported not by the government or local authorities, but by a small group of professionals who believed in its significance.

Based on the simple idea that old friends should do business again, with support from ordinary people and Swedish companies, we believed the project would succeed.

The East Indiaman Gotheborg project creates a historical platform that even today can foster research and collaboration.

Electronic commerce can be developed from the project's communication needs.

Ship's building Project and its Vision

Desire for a Continuation

Ship's Vision and Practical Goals:

"The Gotheborg III will be Sweden's only full-rigged sailing vessel and one of the largest wooden sailing ships of its kind globally. It's destined to be a Swedish flagship for international industry, trade, and cultural contacts. The primary objective is to build, equip, and navigate the ship around the Cape of Good Hope and back, symbolically reopening the old trade route to China, estimated to take around 18 months."

Despite the project's ambitious nature, it was grounded in a realistic business plan and backed by a robust organization.

Developing a Broader Purpose

The person who during the winter of 1992/93 first outlined a wider purpose of the project was Bo Erland Alfredsson (1934-2022), a one-man think tank and entrepreneur, at this time employed to find tenants to the large hotel and office building Hotel 11 on the former Eriksberg shipyard area at Norra Älvstranden in Gothenburg. He recognized its potential to serve as a hub for various businesses and organizations across industry, trade, and culture as quickly as if he had just been waiting for it.

A focal point for western Swedish entrepreneurs and a future media hub

Here is the time to mention Bo Erland Alfredsson, living in Stenungsund and at the time working as a property developer for the nearby Hotel 11. He immediately saw the potential of this crazy project, to become a focal point for western Swedish entrepreneurs and a future media hub. He knew what we were building and why, long before anyone else. Basically, I just added history and IT to his vision. I would say that, in short, that was all there was to it. That was the river along which everything else flowed.

Passion and willpower goes a long way. Together, we set out to launch a multifaceted project that would garner support and provide benefits to as many groups as possible. We based this on our firm conviction that China was just a few steps away from becoming an important trade partner. We were convinced that this project would present a unique opportunity to reconnect the Swedish export industry at large to this rapidly developing market. At this time, when the Cultural Revolution was still in clear memory, we were often chided for our naivety. But we did not laugh. Nor did the Chinese trade delegations who soon started to arrive in limousine caravan, after caravan dragging their reluctant Swedish hosts after them.

Neither did the Swedish export industry.

A rapidly growing China

The large Swedish export companies were there alright, struggling along, but in the early 1990s this was far from the common understanding of things. To most, China was far away and of interest only for those that was taken in - or abhorred - by the Chinese 'Mao-ism' and the Cultural Revolution (1966-76). It took an active interest to see what was going on, on the East and Southeast Asian part of the Pacific Rim, to be aware of Deng Xiaoping and his plans.


To the Swedish import and export industry the creation of the Special Economic Zone around the hitherto sleepy fishing village of Shenzhen, just across the border from Hong Kong, was changing the map of international trade. Art Historians on the other hand was worried that what the Cultural Revolution had failed to destroy of the Chinese history, the economic and industrial revolution would do. Foreign investment was now welcomed into China and foreign technology was brought in, and of course copied, and the economic growth was attracting momentum.

Ship project

We were convinced that our ship project - that aimed to re-connect our traditional good and peaceful trading relations with China, and that would send a trade delegation of a kind the world had not seen in hundreds of years, smack in the middle of this economic zone - could be a sensational success.

'Sister City' agreement with Shanghai

I must say again that what we saw back then was not a common knowledge. Through my position as secretary in Lars-Åke Skagers brainchild, The Gothenburg 'Shanghai-Gothia Club', created as a result of the friendship 'sister city' agreement signed between Shanghai and Gothenburg in 1986, that he had come up with, and Anders and Berits' network of cultural and commercial experts and advisors, we had a rare understanding on what was going on in China at this time.

Trade Opportunities and Cultural Ties:

We were all convinced that China would soon rise towards its former importance in the world and we felt that stimulating the Swedish industry to begin thinking about China was a good idea.

We, as a small but growing group of Swedes, saw beyond its recent history of political unrest and thought ahead. The Swedish East India Company had never aimed at colonialism or used force towards its business ends in China, which we felt was a good point to make when trying to reconnect with our old trade partner.

When the ship was launched we wanted every export company in Sweden to have their flags along the quayside. In the mean time we would try to arrange so that everyone who wanted to help the best they could, would find a place and a purpose within the project.

Reviving Ancient Maritime Techniques:

Building an 18th-century ship required extensive research as well as adherence to modern maritime classification standards if we were going to be allowed to sail the thing. A functioning 'antique' shipyard was needed not only for construction but also for attracting visitors and supporting various activities. As a bonus we would help preserve maritime crafts like sail making, rigging, timber handling, and maybe even astronomical navigation, all essentials for operating a traditional tall ship not to mention actually sailing it.

Promoting Cultural Exchange

A key belief was that cultural and idea exchange in international trade he ship would serve as a focal point for various cultural efforts, with the construction process serving a much larger purpose.

We also felt that peaceful and mutually beneficial exchange of culture and ideas is more enduring than any physical trade goods like porcelain, tea, and silk.

The ship would be a perfect focal point for any number of efforts where the building of the ship would be the mean to a much larger end, and the synergies would be so many, that the ship could not help but being built in the process.

Scientific Advisory Board:

Together with Professor Åke Andersson, head of the Swedish Institute of Future Studies, Bo and I formed a scientific advisory board to develop and implement these ideas.

Communicating a Complex Vision:

Obviously a project like this, based on such a complex vision, was difficult to communicate as a whole. By June 1996 I was however able to drive around and meet with the majority of our most important sponsors, and in writing explain how all of their efforts would come together into one unified effort, where everybody could see where they belonged, and how their contribution was well thought out and contributed to the whole. Then this was distributed together with our sponsors Göteborgs-Posten print media newspaper, which was distributed to almost every household in Western Sweden via Göteborgs-Posten.

Widespread Community Support:

At this point in time even the cab drivers in Gothenburg would send you to the shipyard for free, if you told you were working for the project.