Flutterby™! : Vasa

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2008-06-04 13:36:10.477918+00 by Dan Lyke 2 comments

A bit of history with which I was unfamiliar: The Royal Ship Vasa: Sweden's Emblem of Power. In 1626 or thereabouts, Sweden's King Gustavus Adolphus decided that he wanted a monster war ship, so he dictated the dimensions to his ship builders. 64 guns, a thousand ornate carvings, the stern rising 50 feet above the water. In 1628, despite some obvious flaws in stability during testing, the boat left port, sailed less than a mile before a gust of wind caught the boat, made it heel far enough to start taking water through its gun ports (that had been opened to fire a salute as it left harbor), and sank.

An inquiry was, of course, opened, but nobody was punished. When the problem is that nobody said "that's a bad design" to the king, calling out the culprit generally doesn't happen. Applications of this as a parable to modern projects, particularly those in software, are left as an exercise for the reader.

More on the history and the salvage, raising and restoration of the Swedish ship Vasa.

[ related topics: Politics History Boats ]

comments in ascending chronological order (reverse):

#Comment Re: made: 2008-06-05 03:21:30.329791+00 by: dws

Another take, from a project management perspective: http://testobsessed.com/2002/03/18/going-down-with-the-ship/

#Comment Re: made: 2008-06-05 12:37:34.469026+00 by: petronius

Ships falling over seems to have been fairly common in the early days of sailing. In 1545 HMS Mary Rose, commisioned by Henry VIII as the largest ship in the Royal Navy ran into the same problem during a batle with the French. Over its history it had been upgraded from 78 to 91 guns, and its diplacement increased from 500 to 700 tons, apparently without sufficient balancing. During the battle it fired a broadside, took a sharp turn, and heeled over before the gunners could get the lower gunports closed. As it began to go over, the large nubmer of knights in heavy armor on the topdecks added to the imbalance. Such is war.