An image of a ship sailing past Tower Bridge on the River Thames in London has been shared on Facebook, claiming to show: “A 282 year old East India trading company ship [returning] to London for the first time since 1787.”
This photo has been circulating on social media for years, with several posts claiming that it shows a centuries-old vessel.
While the image itself is real, the ship it shows is not 282 years old, but instead a modern replica of a sunken Swedish ship named the Götheborg.
Using a Google reverse image search, Full Fact linked this photo to the website of the Götheborg of Sweden—a full-size replica of the 18th century Swedish East India Company vessel of the same name built in 2005.
According to the website, the original Götheborg was shipwrecked outside of Gothenburg harbour in Sweden in 1745.
The viral image shows the replica ship during a visit to London in 2007 as part of its maiden voyage, which saw the Götheborg retrace the same route the original vessel sailed during the 18th century.
A BBC article from 19 May 2007 featuring the same image reported that the ship had visited 13 countries over two years during its voyage.
It added that the original vessel was last in London in 1745, not 1787 as the Facebook post claims.
The Götheborg continues to sail, and is set to head out on a two-year expedition to Asia in June 2022.
Image courtesy of the Svenska Ostindiska Companiet