No one responsible
An inquiry was held a month later. After hearing testimony from the captain, the sailors, the shipbuilder and the admiral, no one was ultimately punished for the disaster.
On the morning of April 24, 1961, 333 years after she sank, the Vasa was raised from the sea floor and now is preserved, intact, in the Vasa Museum in Stockholm.
Figure 2. The Vasa, brought up from the bay after 333 years and restored to nearly her original condition, on display in the Vasa museum in Stockholm, Sweden.
Why did the Vasa sink? Ultimately, it was a combination of being top heavy with too much weight in the masts and the two decks of guns, with not enough ballast. Even the ballast was not designed well. It was composed of round, river rocks which would roll with the ship, adding positive feedback to induce the ship to roll even more.
Figure 3. A model of the cross section of the Vasa showing the two gun decks and the rock ballast in the keel. Too much weight above the waterline and not enough ballast contributed to her sinking.
The legacy of the Vasa, suggests a few pointers for advanced product development that might still apply, almost 400 years later:
- Express your concerns when management changes the specs in the middle of the product design.
- If you are pushing the envelope of performance, there is no substitute to having an analytical model to accurately predict performance before you commit to hardware.
- When you do have first article and perform test and measurements, use the data to verify how well it matches the predictions and when it doesn’t, use the data to “hack into” the design to determine its limitations.
- Never hesitate voicing your concerns to management. The last thing they want is a surprise.