The Kalmar Nyckel (Key of Kalmar) was a Dutch built, armed merchant ship, called a pinnace, constructed in about 1625, and carried Swedish settlers to establish the colony of New Sweden in the area that is now Wilmington, Delaware. The ship was named after the city of Kalmar, which purchased the ship in 1628 as its contribution to the Royal Swedish Navy. When Sweden decided to launch an expedition to establish a trading colony in the new world under the direction of Peter Minuit, the Kalmar Nyckel was chosen for the voyage. A smaller vessel, the Fogel Grip (Griffin), accompanied her.

The ship set sail, captained by Jan Hindriksen van der Water, from Gothenburg at the beginning of December 1637 but encountered a severe storm in the North Sea and diverted to Holland for repairs. She departed again New Year's Day 1638, and made landfall in New Sweden in March 1638. The Kalmar Nyckel made four successive round trips from Sweden, which is a record unchallenged by any other colonial vessel. Later, she served the Royal Swedish Navy in the Swedish-Danish War, then was used as a merchant ship, and finally was lost at sea in the late 17th century. There are two conflicting reports of where she was lost. One report says she went down off the coast of the city of Kalmar, another report says she sank in the North Sea, off the coast of England.

Provincetown - Swedish Tall Ship 1

Replica of the Kalmar Nyckel docked at MacMillan Pier in Provincetown Harbor.

A re-creation of the ship was built in the late 1990s and is used for educational and tourism purposes. The ship is owned and operated by the Kalmar Nyckel Foundation. The Foundation's primary source of funding comes from the taxpayers of the State of Delaware along with donations from corporations and individuals. The ship is operated and maintained by a volunteer staff, under the leadership of a paid captain, chief mate, and a boatswain.

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