Charles Sheldon and the Baltic’s First Dry Dock
Charles Sheldon (1665-1739) was Chief Shipwright of the Stockholm shipyard from 1692 until his death. In 1703, Sheldon visited England, France and Holland studying developments in shipbuilding and dockyards. On his return, he proposed the building of a dry dock at the Karlskrona dockyard. This was accepted and construction began in 1716. Construction was disrupted due to political unrest and difficulties with contractors between 1718 and 1720, when Sheldon regained control of the project. This dry dock, the first to operate in Baltic waters, opened in 1724. Technical challenges included blasting the dock out of bedrock and the lack of Baltic tides to drain the dry dock. A chain-and-bucket system was eventually adopted, though windmills were briefly used without success.