The Time Spain Built Submarines 70 Tons Too Heavy

Samuel Reason | August 25th, 2019

Known as the most expensive decimal math error in the whole history of engineering, the time Spain built submarines that weighed 70 tons too heavy to function was a nationwide disaster. In 2013, they realized a grave error when constructing their new world-class submarines: the vessels were much too heavy to function and would sink into the ocean.

It is thought to be the most expensive math error ever, being traced back to a miscalculation, where someone put a decimal in the wrong place. Rafale Bardaji who was the former director of the Office of Strategic Assessment at Spain’s Defence Ministry called it a fatal mistake. The Isaac Peral was going to be the pride of the Spanish navy, a new class of diesel-electric submarines.

It was nearly completed when engineers discovered a major problem, and as a result of the U.S. Navy contractor in Connecticut known as Electric Boat, had to step in to find a solution. They signed a contract with the Spanish Defence Ministry to find out a way to slim down the 2,200-ton submarine. The work is going to take three years to correct the grave math error and cost the Spanish government over USD $50 million.

The likely scenario would be to extend the length of the hull to increase the buoyancy of the submarine, otherwise, they would have to get rid of things to reduce the weight and the Spanish Navy did not want to compromise the vessel’s state of the art combat systems.

Spain had invested $2.7 billion into the program, using a Spanish shipbuilder called Navantia, but it appears to have been a complete disaster. It is now a major embarrassment of the country and military – having to use a foreign company to correct the issue. Someone made a miscalculation at the start of the program and no one bothered to check it, the ministry stated that programs like submarine building face technology challenges.

That being said the mistake has gone down as one of the most expensive engineerings fails in the history of time.

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