In September 1667, the Dutch sailing vessel Het Wapen van Amsterdam was on its way home from the East Indies, fully loaded with gemstones, pearls, gold, silk, and other colonial treasures. Suddenly, a fierce storm broke out, destroying several of the ships accompanying her. Het Wapen van Amsterdam survived the storm but got blown off course. Having drifted in the Atlantic Ocean for some time, it finally ran aground near the Skeiðarársandur estuary in the south of Iceland and got buried in sand and ice.
There were numerous unsuccessful attempts to find the Gold Ship between the 1960s and the 1980s, leading the Icelandic government to issue a loan of almost $2 million to conduct the recovery mission. In 2013, Gisli Gislason, an Icelandic entrepreneur, and investor of great acumen and charisma kicked off Project 1667 with the aim of finding the missing Gold Ship, drawing on a highly skilled cross-industry team of professional enthusiasts equipped with some of the most cutting-edge technology around.
This summer, the SPH Engineering team responded to Gisli’s invitation to join the project and conducted the first drone survey. The goal of the initial mission led by Alexey Dobrovolskiy was to test the applicability of the airborne Ground Penetrating Radar (GPR) within the search area. The performance of a magnetometer that can be carried in a backpack. Both devices proved their applicability, but certain limitations were also highlighted. The GPR, for instance, is ideal for scanning freshwater but becomes less effective with seawater, so it will be used for the parts of the search area more distant from the coast. The magnetometer was able to detect two anomalies — presumably the wrecks of two metal ships.
“We’ve had a great time working with the UgCS team and come up with some really promising findings. Within a few months, we will conduct another drone survey to scan the whole of the search area. Meanwhile, we are raising money for the project’s next steps and discussing possible cooperation with the Dutch government,” says Gisli Gislason, the adventurous mastermind of Project 1667.
For SPH Engineering, high-profile recovery missions like this and the Greenland WWII aircraft expedition are a way to prove the efficiency of drones to the wider public. They also provide opportunities to improve and broaden the functionality of the UgCS multi-purpose drone mission planning software and UgCS industrial solutions, allowing them to be adapted for new uses.