Nobody’s perfect, and human error is almost inevitable, but some monumental scrubs can end up costing shed loads of cash. Here are some of the most expensive mistakes in history, which should make you feel slightly better about your slip-ups.
9 Most Expensive Mistakes in All History
Table of Contents
Seongsu Bridge Collapse
The Seongsu bridge over the Han River links to South Korean districts and is one of Seoul’s most popular commuter outs.
But the three thousand eight hundred and the five-foot structure was struck by disaster on the morning of October 21st, 1994. The bridge struggled under the weight of the hundreds of people on their way to work in the early morning rush, and then at around 7:40 A.M., a 157-foot central chunk collapsed 65 feet into the river below along with cars many buses and a fully loaded bus. Thirty-two people lost their lives while 17 more were injured. An investigation was launched into the freak accident. The bridge it already received complaints about unstable foundations, which caused an unsteady swaying sensation, and the root cause was identified as a construction failure.
Reports noted that the steel trestle joint supporting the central suspension had been welded with an incorrect thickness of eight millimeters rather than 10 millimeters, causing crucial connecting pins to break under the immense pressure. Although the bridge was designed to withstand a maximum 36.33-ton weight per car vehicle weighing 47.3-tons were also using the bridge to commute. These combined factors cost the State Council $180,000 in compensation to the victims while a complete rebuild set them back the equivalent of an extra 2 million making this one costly human error. Seongsu Bridge collapse is considered to be among the most expensive mistakes in South Korea.
In spring 2014, London welcomed an ambitious new skyscraper to its financial district. The 525-foot tall reflective building became known as the walkie talkie due to its distinctive curved design. But this shiny new tower was hiding a sinister secret. As summer came around, citizens of London began complaining that the building’s south-facing concave surface was causing powerful rays of sunlight at certain points in the day, which could raise the temperature to an unheard of 70 degrees Celsius. The highly concentrated beam was capable of melting tiles, causing a small fire on the doormat of a barbershop and melting a Jaguar x j belonging to a local businessman.
While one journalist even attempted to fry an egg in the extreme heat, the newly nicknamed walkie scrunchie had to be stopped. So a permanent sunshade known as a brise soleil was attached to the building between the third and Thirty-fourth floors over the course of six months, costing over $12,000,000. A hard pill to swallow, considering the building already cost over $250,000,000 to build, bringing the total cost to ~$262,000,000 and making it the most expensive man-made mistakes in the UK.
Ironically the architect Rafael Vinoly also designed the Vdara Hotel in Las Vegas, which suffered a similar problem as it sent sunbathers earning it the nickname the death ray. Rafael Vinoly confessed that he knew this would happen but that he didn’t have the tools to analyze just how bad it would be. Someone needs to tell this guy to stop designing superweapons instead of buildings.
Lotus Riverside disaster
The Lotus Riverside complex in Shanghai was an ambitious project which ended in a complete disaster because of one simple mistake. The residential complex was comprised of 11 new high rise apartment blocks, but at around 5:00 a.m. on the twenty-seventh of June 2009, one of the 13 story buildings suddenly collapsed. Miraculously missing the surrounding blocks and avoiding a devastating domino effect.
The incident killed one construction worker. But the fallout could have been much worse of the almost complete building had been occupied by its buyers. Investigations found that the freak accident was caused by noncompliance with construction standards and some seriously shoddy foundations earth beneath the building was excavated to make a 15-foot underground car park, and the soil had been piled up 32 feet on a nearby riverbank which then burst under pressure sending water gushing beneath these muddy foundations caused the building to topple over in a 70 direction but simply moving the earth elsewhere could have prevented the whole ordeal.
This massive oversight caused a number of project investors to withdraw and request their money back, and the company suffered total economic losses of up to 30 million including construction costs and compensation to the would-be homeowners of the two thousand one hundred dollars per square meter apartments number seven Lake Penn your disaster. In 1980 a drilling exhibition commissioned by Texaco triggered a cataclysmic series of events that turned an eleven-foot deep freshwater body of water in Louisiana known as Lake pinion into with 13,000-foot deep saltwater lake. On November 20th, a $5,000,000 oil rig owned by drilling contractor Wilson brothers accidentally damaged the Dome of the underground diamond crystal salt mine following a miscalculation by Texaco regarding their exact location.
Around 13 billion liters of water was drained from the lake, washing salt soil and water into a merciful and ever-widening hole, which created a powerful vortex sucking in the drilling platform. Eleven barges a tugboat 65 acres of the surrounding terrain and even a small island in the center of the lake. The ensuing chaos destroyed most evidence of the accident as air escaping from the mine cost 400-foot gazers and the Delcambre canal now reverse direction to flow into the whirlpool. Miraculously no one was killed. But the real casualty was Texaco’s pride and their wallet as the company paid $32 million to diamond crystal salt mine and $12.8 million to a nearby plant nursery, making Lake Pannier perhaps the most expensive manmade lake in history setting Texaco in Wilson brothers back over the equivalent of $140-million today.
The Baltic ace
Catastrophic mistakes can happen anywhere has proven by the Baltic ace carrier ship, which sank in just 15 minutes in the North Sea on December 5th, 2012. The 35,500-ton ship was lost 65 kilometers off the Dutch coast after colliding with Siberian container ship the Corvus J killing eleven of its 24 crew members and sinking over fourteen hundred new Mitsubishi cars, which were being transported from Japan and Tokyo to Russia. The wreck ended up almost 100 feet deep in one of the world’s busiest shipping lanes, hindering a safe passage for marine traffic and risking the release of dangerous substances into the environment.
In March 2014, the company arranged water stock commissioned partners bicyclists and mimosa salvage to remove the wreckage, which began by extracting its 540000 remaining liters of oil. More than 18 ships and 150 people then took part in a huge operation to remove the sunken vessel, which can only be achieved by lifting the irreparably damaged wreck in chunks. Starting in April 2015, the ship was cut into eight sections with wire and brought to the surface in pieces.
Dutch police were unable to investigate the accident itself as it occurred outside of their territorial waters. But the mistake has since been speculated as a result of pure human error as neither ship followed collision regulations. The mammoth salvage operation alone cost 67-million euros the equivalent of around 75 million dollars today. Add that to the cost of the Baltic Ace and the cost to repair the Jay as well as the cargo they were carrying, and the driving error cost around a hundred and fifty million in total.
Mars Climate Orbiter
In September 1999, NASA’s 638-kilogram robotic space probe the Mars Climate Orbiter burned up and broke into pieces as it neared its destination after ten long months of traveling.
The orbiter was designed to examine the climate of the Martian planet. But the reason for its failure to even touch ground leaves entirely with the people who sent it into space, to begin with. The navigation team, a Jet Propulsion Lab, had used metric units measuring in millimeters and meters to indicate the planned altitude of the spacecraft. While Lockheed Martin Astronautics in Denver Colorado used imperial measurements and inches and feet and crucially failed to recognize that the measurements required conversion; as a result, the trajectory of the Climate Orbiter is estimated to have been dangerously within 57 kilometers of the planet’s surface where it skipped violently upon entry and was immediately destroyed.
This huge discrepancy was responsible for the failure of the entire mission, and the mission was just over three hundred and 28-million dollars in 1999 was lost forever and adjusted for inflation, that’s the equivalent of over $500,000,000. I guess it pays to stick to one measurement system.
The S-81 Isaac Peral
Mistakes are easily made, and it’s often too late to rectify the situation by the time someone notices, but that wasn’t exactly the case with Spain’s supposedly State of the art submarine S-81 Isaac Peral. The submarine was commissioned in 2013 as part of a new quartet for the Spanish navy.
But there’s just one problem with its modern design. Once it’s submerged, the Isaac Peral may never be able to resurface again. This is because a miraculously unnoticed flaw in its design means that the ship is around 75 to 100 tonnes overweight, which means Spain is essentially invested in a submarine, which can only move in one direction. Down!
The mistake is said to have been a result of a pesky decimal point placed in the wrong place during calculations, and it’s a single dot that could cost an extra 9.7-million per meter of the hole, which has to be extended to regain its balance.
Considering 680-million has already been invested in the single ship as part of a total 3,000,000,000 for all four subs, this is hardly a screw up that can be brushed under the rug. Although the S-81 Isaac Peral is now estimated to join the Spanish fleet 2020. It’s unclear whether it’ll ever see the light of day, literally.
Berlin Brandenburg Airport
Berlin Brandenburg Airport is of the many most expensive mistakes in all history in Germany. This airport was designed and built to mark Germany’s reunification after the fall of the Berlin Wall was set to be the third busiest in Germany and one of the 15 busiest in Europe.
It’s fitted with modern terminals, bold structures, and even a working railway station. But not a single passenger has ever passed through its gates. The multi-billion-dollar airport was supposed to open in 2012, but all you’ll find there nowadays are operating baggage tracks with no bags, and a single Ghost Train Kept running to encourage airflow. But why the global financial crisis of 2007 and 2008 reduced the chances of contractor and investor involvement. So various politicians pitched in using public money with conflicting ideas. At one point, the capacity inside the terminal building was doubled after construction had already begun.
And after the airport company realized the designer had not accounted for any shopping. Whole new retail floors were ordered after such setbacks. Invitations for the grand opening were sent out in 2012. But the ceremony was canceled after the entire fire prevention system was found to be inoperable. A re-evaluation of the airport by officials discovered 550000 faults, which needed fixing before it could be considered for use. From incorrect lightbulbs to entire cable systems installed wrong with millions spent each month to maintain the disused building, the airport has now cost upwards of 6.5-billion dollars over three times its original budget.
This monumental mistake dates back to 16 24 when the Swedish king ordered one of the most spectacular warships the world has ever seen. The Vasa, a new flagship of the Swedish navy, was unveiled on the 10th of August 16 28, but to the horror of thousands of excited onlookers, it barely left Stockholm’s bay before it sank one hundred and five feet below the surface with the first gust of wind the warship immediately capsized humiliating the king who blamed a long-dead designer Henrik hybrids and for its failures in the king’s currency.
The ship caused more than 200000 wrecks dollars to build, which amounted to over 5 percent of Sweden’s gross national product for the year. In other words, one-twentieth of the nation’s annual income suddenly lay at the bottom of the Stockholm harbor. If the equivalent percentage of Sweden’s GNP was spent on a single ship today, there would equal 25.6-billion dollars. A lengthy recovery of the Vosa began in 1956 and continued until 1990 when the restored 17th-century ship was displayed in the vast museum and 98 percent of its original glory.
Although official salvage costs were unrecorded and partly funded by the Navy, modern estimates for the recovery of a ship of its size are between 55 and 110 million, and the worst part is that archaeological examination suggests that poor design was, in fact, a mime as the gun deck was far too heavy.
Sale of Alaska.
If you’re selling something, you should probably be 100 percent sure that there’s no value left in it for you. First and the sale of Alaska should be enough to prove it. Alaska was originally owned by Russia and had been a fairly lucrative source for fur as well as tea and ice.
But in 1867, the Russian Emperor Alexander the second no longer saw any profit in keeping the territory. Harsh weather conditions made it hard to farm, and its distance meant it was hard to protect from invasion. So Russia settled an agreement to sell the region to the US for 27.2 dollars. At first, the Americans thought nothing of Alaska either until in 1896 when a major gold deposit was discovered in the Yukon, signaling its true potential as a gateway to a plethora of natural resources like oil and gold. As the ratio of the Russian ruble to the dollar was almost equal back then, not much profit was gained from the sale.
But the U.S. has earned its share back a hundred times over. Economists now estimate the value of its oil and gas reserves alone to be worth around 200 billion, meaning this is one mistake that definitely has the Russian Empire turning in his grave and definitely the most expensive mistakes in all history.
So what’s the most expensive mistake you’ve ever made. And how does it compare? Which one of these terrible expensive mistakes media face bomb the hardest. Let me know in the comments.