On August 10, 1628, Vasa, the most ambitious ship of war ever designed to that time slid down the ways as a large crowd of citizens watched. It was a triple deck, 220 foot long, 64 gun giant. In addition to its military assets it was adorned with beautiful carvings in recognition of King Gustav Adolph, the Swedish Monarch who had commissioned its construction. As the ship slowly drifted away from the shoreline a breeze came up. The ship rolled over and sank.
In 1961, Swedish Archaeologists, began the slow process of raising the ship and moving it into a specially built museum designed specifically to preserve the ship. The oxygen poor water of the Baltic has left the hulk almost completely intact. A major goal has been to determine why its only voyage was so short. A leading line of investigation is centered on the fact that the ship’s master builder was a Dutch born Swede who actually employed 2 separate work groups to build the ship – each group responsible for building one side of the ship. One group was Dutch and the other was Swedish. The groups worked on the ship at the same time, but were apparently uncoordinated due to cultural barriers. Rulers used by each group found on the wreck suggest the Swedish workers used a scale with a 12 inch foot, while the Dutch workers’ rulers employed an 11 inch foot. The current theory is that this created an unstable hull.
Anybody recall a space probe to Mars (I think) that failed because the internationally built craft used 2 different systems of measurement in its construction? Ain’t life grand.