Header photo credit: Peter Isotalo A 1:10 scale model of Vasa’s elaborately decorated stern.
On August 10, 1628, The Vasa, a brand new war ship commissioned by King Gustavus Adolphus of Sweden, set off on its maiden voyage from Stockholm. It got about a mile into the harbor when a mild gust of wind tipped it over and sank it, killing about 30 sailors. It wasn’t salvaged until 1961. Quite a bit of the remains of the ship and much of its fittings and cargo are on display in a very popular museum in Stockholm.
The Vasa Syndrome is a term used today to describe modern institutional or business failure due to poor communication, unrealistic goal setting, and lack of adaptability by management. Gustavus was off fighting a war in Germany and Poland, but kept making changes to the design of the ship, insisting, for example, that there be 84 bronze cannons when the ship could only hold 36. He wanted it built quickly, with elaborate decorations and carvings that showed off his grandeur and greatness on its multiple decks, the height of which made it unstable in the water. It was tested for stability in the water and failed the test, but was allowed to sail anyway. It ended in disaster. It seems things never change.
What are your experiences with the Vasa Syndrome? Got any good stories about boats?