Bridges to Nowhere comes in many different configurations and permutations, some of them are basically excusable, for instance bridges that have been partially destroyed in a war, some were built as a form of future proofing with vague plans of roads and other infrastructure coming later on, other’s are just stupid prestige projects.
One good example of the stupid prestige project is the Russky Bridge in Vladivostok in, you guessed it, Russia. Build to connect Vladivostok with, again perfectly obvious, Russky Island.
It cost roughly a billion US$ or so, with a rough capacity of some fifty thousand cars per day, the problem? Oh right, Russky island have like five thousand people living on it.
Reason for failure: I suppose it didn’t fail for the companies that built the overprice useless bridge nor the politician that could point to a big shiny monstrosity. It did fail the people of Russia, as it was utterly and totally useless, built really just to impress foreign dignitaries at some conference no one remembers anymore.
Another example of a prestige project is the Saint Elmo’s Bridge in Valletta, Malta, played as a restoration project of a bridge destroyed by the Italians during World War Two, it just goes to a breakwater and a lighthouse, utterly pointless beyond the tourist value and the deck keeps getting damaged, so closure happens with tiresome regularity.
Whole project cost 2,8 million €, seems kinda pricey, but hey, URBAN RENEWAL, URBAN RENEWAL! ARGHH!
Yeah, the Miles Glacier Bridge was originally a railroad bridge, constructed for the purpose of transporting copper from a mine inland to the Alaskan coast, after the depression the copper prices crashed and rendered the line to expensive to maintain.
The railroad fell apart, the bridge was actually re-purposed as a road bridge, however, the road on the far-side basically didn’t exist and a flood damaged one of the truss sections, so now it is a Bridge to Nowhere, however again, it did actually pay itself off, it cost 1.4 million US$ to built back in 1910 and around 200 million US$ worth of copper was extracted before it all went to shit.
So it wasn’t a total waste.
The Yalu River Broken Bridge was blown up in World War Two and the North Koreans dismantled their side of the Bridge, probably because the it was right next to the bridge you can see in the background of the above picture.
The Chinese turned their side into a historical landmark.
In a valiant attempt to actually do something good for the poor sods in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, the People’s Republic of China built a very pretty bridge with all the infrastructure and shiny shit needed.
On their side, the Koreans built a small gravel path linking the bridge to: NOWHERE.
Sure, Xi Jinping has promised that his government will now pay for the infrastructure on the Korean side too, because he basically has to do everything for the utterly broken North Korean economy.
There’s been bridges in both Norway and New Zealand with the same story, built to serve areas that didn’t get populated at all and now simply remain as curiosities for random people out for a nice walk in the countryside.
Germany had a motorway bridge that was built in 1966 but wasn’t actually connected until 1994, frankly, that was a bit to much planning, the maintenance cost of keeping that around for that long probably wasn’t worth it.
Bridges to Nowhere are delightful little stories, often failure, sometimes grand conspiracies and sometimes cute.
This one’s a good one, there’s nothing like
a failure on such a massive and frankly comical degree, that frankly it should
not have been possible, incompetence of such a staggering degree, exist today
only the last few absolute monarchies, kleptocratic states, Chris Grayling and
the Trump Administration.
The journey was impressive in only one
regards, that the Imperial Russian Baltic Fleet somehow managed to actually
reach the straits of Tsushima, by all accounts, the journey ought to have ended
in only sunken ships somewhere around Zanzibar or possible Dover, frankly
either would have been favourable outcome for the Tsarist navy than actually
reaching their destination.
The glorious and grand Baltic Fleet of 1904
set sail, the flagship proceeded to sail aground, a destroyer lost an anchor
chain, then rammed another battleship, all this IN the Baltic Ocean, well done,
well done indeed.
Then rumours arose of Japanese torpedo boats station in Denmark, the fuck? I’m an amateur historian and I don’t recall the Great Japan-Danish alliance of 1904 permitting Japanese naval elements in Danish harbours, do you?
Rumours continued, with the Japanese mining
and having submarines active, in the North Sea and Kattegat, 30,000 kilometres
away from the nearest Japanese naval base. They fired on fishermen bringing in
dispatches from the Tsar, the repair ship “Kamchatka” reported that it was
under attack by multiple torpedo boats, about eight, from all directions,
better get used to the proud hulk “Kamchatka”, they’ll be back, again and
again, dumber and dumber.
Now, having survived the depredations of the mighty “Danish” Squadron of the Imperial Navy of Japan, you’d think it’d be smooooth sailing all the way to the pacific theatre? That an imaginary flotilla would be the end of this farcical display of ineptitude? No, not just yet.
The Glorious and Mighty and not at all
Imaginary Battle of Dogger Bank against the Japanese menace and definitely not
just a bunch of British Trawlers.
Having escape from the Vodka-fuelled
adventures of the Danish straits, the fleet entered the North Sea, heading
south towards the channel, moving past the Dogger Bank, for those who don’t
know, the bank is a massive fishing hot sport, even today the area has trawler
In 1904, the Russians spotted some British trawlers doing what you’d expect trawlers to do, which would be fishing, for those of you who are clueless glue-sniffers, the glorious Pacific Squadron, formerly Baltic, opened fire on the trawlers.
Let’s just take a short break here, Russian
warships open fire on British fishing boats, in 1904, when the British Empire was
the single most powerful empire on the planet, this story could have had a very
different ending, something like “entire Russian fleet obliterated by the British
Home fleet and Russia forced into humiliating peace agreement”.
Hmm, I guess the story wouldn’t have ended
that differently, oh well, back to the comedy.
And comedy it is, several ships reported being hit by Japanese torpedoes, fired from UNARMED British trawlers, on the Borodino, the crew panicked so much, the either hugged the floor in their lifejackets or believed they were being attack by Jack Sparrow and armed themselves with fucking cutlasses.
And here comes the smallest success ever in
human history, the mighty Second Pacific Squadron managed to damage four
trawlers and SINK ONE, unfortunately, because this story is ever so silly, they
managed to shot their own cruisers, twice, which isn’t that impressive, when
SEVEN battleships are firing at you.
A little side note, one of the ships are
the cruiser Aurora, note “are”, you can actually go to Saint Petersburg and see
the Aurora, it’s activities in the revolution that followed ensure that it was
preserved by the Soviets.
Just to punch home how bad whatever
lunatics teaching Russian sailors how to shut had fucked up the training, the
battleship Oroyol fire five hundred shells, without hitting anything other than
Poseidon’s imaginary palace.
Now, the fleet did sail on, which the
Russian government was prostrating itself before the mighty British Empire
apologizing, Admiral Rozhestvensky was instructed to leave the officers responsible
for this whole mess behind as he reached Vigo, Spain, which he proceeded to use
to get rid of some Captain he didn’t like.
So Captain Klado did the sensible thing
and, wait, no, he didn’t, he was told to gather reinforcements for the
squadron, and out of spite, he got his hands on the worst of the worst, old
tubs, useless junk and ships that were, I know, worse than what the squadron
Except Repair Ship Kamchatka, nothing could ever be worse than that insanity.
And now, back to the beginning, welcome
Now, the Magnificently inept Russian fleet have finally reached Africa, without shooting anymore British ships, just a certain ship having been out of contact for a while, who happened to have shot some 300 hundred shells at respectively: a Swedish merchantman, a German trawler and a fucking French Schooner, now how a Schooner, a SAILING ship get’s mistaken for a Japanese anything, is a wonder that only the utterly degenerated Captain of the Repair Ship Kamchatka could answer.
just quickly go through the event as the fleet goes from Tangier, whereas they
left, one of the Russian ships managed to snag and sever the underwater
telegraph line, cutting the city off for four entire days, great start.
Now, these ships are old school coal powered
vessels, none of this fancy new-fangled heavy fuel oil here, good old coal, which
means they need to refuel at some point, coal doesn’t have the same amount of
energy oil does, not even close.
Now, this wasn’t actually fucked up,
Russian Naval Command had arranged for German coalers to resupply the fleet of
Dakar, Today’s Senegal, however, this is stupid as fuck, so they went with
double loads of coal. Which means that EVERYWHERE HAD COAL, everywhere, which
means dust, in an ultra humid environment, filled with Russian conscripts from
the interior of the country.
Hello lung diseases, how are you? Fucking
up Russian sailors? How delightful.
At this point, Kamchatka decides that
sailing along the Angolese coast during a storm needs a bit of drama and send “Do
you see torpedo boats?” instead of “We are all right now”.
At Cape Town, the Admiral was informed
about the reinforcements that the enraged and spiteful Captain Klado had
arranged were on the way, I don’t think any fleet in history have ever actively
tried to avoid their own reinforcements.
Now, you can imagine that there were
certain issues with morale on board at this point, as in their morale were
fucking gone. To try and keep themselves amused and moderately happy, the
sailors started bringing exotic pets onboard, mostly birds, which is pretty
harmless, the crocodile and the poisonous snake, that bit a captain, less so. And
then the refiguration systems onboard the “Esperance” broke down, meaning a lot
of rotten meat had to be thrown overboard.
Now, sharks can detect a drop of blood in
water with a frankly amazing range, how easy do you think it was for them to
detect tons of rotting meat being dumped off a supply ship?
So this is the image as the Russian Squadron
rounds the Horn of Africa, a sailing Zoo, filled with despondent sailors, the Kamchatka
causing mischief every few days and they are followed by a trail of rampaging
Circus of nightmares at this point.
From the Cape of Good Hope to the
The fleet had reached Madagascar, when Admiral
Rozhestvensky fell ill for two weeks, his Chief of Staff? Brain haemorrhage and
partial paralysation, what does this mean? Nobody’s in fucking command, apparently
having a chain of command was to much work for the Russian Imperial Navy, shit,
no fucking wonder Lenin won.
Now the crew just go and do R&R on their own, diseases start just killing crew on a daily basis and of course Kamchatka during a funerary salute, fires a LIVE round hitting the Cruiser Aurora, but it’s fine, they were getting used to it at this point.
Now, let’s talk about some of the supply ships,
the “Malay” was sent back with a whole bunch of revolutionaries, mutineers and
general fuck ups, oh yeah, did I mention the fleet had actual revolutionaries
on board? Yeah, being in command of Russian ships of this era was basically hard
mode, some crazy office had bought cigarettes filled opium, TWO THOUSAND OF
Then came the supply ship “Irtysh”, it was
supposed to bring fresh ammo loads, having spent so many shells in the Glorious
Battle of the Dogger Bank, however, in the finest tradition of utter
incompetence, it brought twelve thousand fur-lined boots with lovely matching
winter coast, perfect for the Indian Ocean.
They meet the Transport Ship “Gortchakoff”,
hoping to get that most precious thing for any military service personal,
letters from home, instead it carried the letters they had themselves send from
Now, to try and restore some degree of order
and morale, the Admiral orders gunner drills, let me recap:
The destroyer couldn’t hit the side of barn
even if it hit them in the face.
The Battleships managed to hit the ship towing
the target, well, one of them did, fortunately, it was the flagship.
One of the destroyer squadrons, ordered to
sail line abreast, scattered instead, someone forgot to get them their new codebooks.
Seven torpedoes were in fact fired, which
seems miraculous, one jammed, two where so slow they missed, three just weren’t
aimed properly and swung wide and the last one went in a circle causing panic amongst
The last thing may sound funny, but that
happened way to often in the World Wars, torpedoes are actually pretty hard to
get to work properly.
Oh yeah, and the Kamchatka signalled that
they were sinking, because of course they did, turns out if was just some steam
leak in the engine room.
While this mess is happening, the reinforcements, now named “The Third Pacific Squadron” had left Tallinn with some old fossil Admiral Nebogatoff as commander, the Russian Admiralty issued him the following orders: “You are to join up with Rozhestvensky, whose route is unknown to us”, the comedy continues. And Rozhestvensky then read in a newspaper, that when he’d beaten the Japanese and made it to Vladivostok, he’d have to surrender command to someone else arriving by train.
And you know what? The Third Squadron
actually managed to join them, one of the signs of divinity I’ve heard of, on
the 11th of May 1905, the second and third squadron actually merged
and proudly head towards Vladivostok.
The end of this comedy of failures
On the 27th of May, the Russian Imperial Fleet engaged the Japanese Imperial Navy, the Russians lost, badly: 126.792 Tons of shipping versus 450 tons of Torpedo boats.
The Kamchatka did not survive the battle,
sinking with her captain and most of her crew.
The Aurora actually did survive, together with three other cruisers they made it to Manilla, at this point in time an American protectorate, and were thus interned for the rest of the war.
“Dmitrii Donskoi” managed to survive an engagement six against one, but was to badly damaged in the engagement.
Only ONE lonely ship actually made it to Vladivostok: Almaz, which was barely a cruiser, being more appropriately an armed yacht.
Russia lost the war, Japan won, Revolution came in Russia a short while later.
Not only is the Aurora a survivor from this battle, that you can see today, the flagship of the Japanese? The Mikasa is moored in Yokosuka as a museum ship too, making the pair the only survivors from the same battle on opposing sides.