Around 4:00 PM on August 10, 1628 the warship Vasa set sail in Stockholm harbor on its maiden voyage as the newest ship in the Royal Swedish Navy. After sailing about 1300 meters, a light gust of wind caused the Vasa to heel over on its side. Water poured in through the gun portals and the ship sank with a loss of 53 lives.
The fundamental reason the Vasa sank is, of course, that the ship was unstable. The reasons that the Vasa was constructed to be unstable, and launched when known to be unstable, are numerous and varied. The lessons to be learned are as relevant to our modern-day attempts to build large, complex systems as they were to the art and craft of building warships in 1628.