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Welcome to a chapter of the e-book Disaster Investigation.

 

1.6 Changes in the Commission

Only 30 minutes after the appointment of the Commission the Estonian Foreign Office announced a correction (6). Indrek Tarand was replaced by Enn Neidre - Member - Master Mariner, Estonian Shipping Company. The reason for this first change of the Commission has never been reported.

Evidently a permanent secretary in the Foreign Office, Indrek Tarand, had no qualifications whatsoever to investigate a marine accident but maybe he was an honest man who did not fit into the Commission.

And who was Enn Neidre? Well, he worked for the shipping company to which the 'Estonia' belonged - he was thus 100% partial and should not have been accepted as an investigator, even if he was not the only one in the Commission to be partial. 

A person with inside information about the accident was brought into the Commission to assist the cover-up!

 

1.7 The obvious Conflicts of Interest

The Swedish and Finnish members were civil servants, seafarers, teachers or consultants, which earlier had been involved with accident investigations and had no apparent connection to the casualty or the ferry. The same thing cannot be said about the Estonian members.

Andi Meister was politically responsible for safety at sea in Estonia, and formal head of the government Estonian Shipping Company (ESCO) owning the vessel. Meister had indirectly certified and approved that the 'Estonia' could sail in the Baltic without life rafts under davits for all aboard and with no safety systems. Meister had never investigated a marine casualty. He was a politician although with higher legal education.

Uno Laur was introduced as the managing director of the Average Agency CMM,30 an ex ESCO employee and an experienced maritime specialist, e.g. as representative of the London P&I club. It was not said that he was the predecessor of Enn Neidre at ESCO, nor that he was the personal observer of the Estonian President, Lennart Meri, in the Commission, 3.18 and 4.5.

Enn Neidre, was the head of the Navigation Department of ESCO and Safety Advisor of Estline and the supervisor ashore of the crew of the vessel. Neidre had a unique position to control the surviving crewmembers. Neidre must have been aware of the facts that the 'Estonia' lacked correct life saving equipment, sailed with open watertight doors and that dry evacuation was not possible for all persons aboard. Neidre was immediately on the spot in Finland, when the survivors came ashore and he talked to them. Captain Neidre knows exactly what happened aboard at the time of the accident. He participated actively in the cover-up of the truth.

The Estonian prime minister (or President) appointed three persons, who were very much involved with the 'Estonia' and its operations and safety to investigate an accident to the same ship.

The Finnish and Swedish members did not complain about this conflict of interest among the Estonian members. Why did the Estonian government appoint three investigators, which were in fact going to investigate themselves? These persons were easy to manipulate - and two of them later left the Commission.

The three observers from the Estonian, Finnish and Swedish national maritime administrations were probably also part of the numerous conflicts of interest - because there was more than one! The Finnish maritime administration had once approved the ship and certified it 1980-1993, the Swedes had checked the ferry several times at PSC and particular Swedish surveys without any remarks and the Estonians had issued the certificates. Probably the observers from Denmark and Norway then left the Commission - they did not want to attend a manipulated investigation by their colleagues. Because the manipulations must have been obvious to them from the beginning.

Most members, Swedish, Finna or Estonians, behaved very strangely.31 During the investigation all members and experts refused categorically to answer any simple questions of the writer about the ship and the accident - apparently because everything was still 'under negotiations' in the Commission.

The Swedish head - Olof Forssberg - had previously been legal councel at the Ministry of Defence and used its limousine services, when The Commission met at Stockholm. Börje Stenström had started his career in the Swedish Navy, so two of the Swedish investigators had very good military connections. And it was the Swedish navy that salvaged the visor 1.16. It was probably the same Swedish Navy that had blown off the visor from the wreck under water after the accident!

All members of the Commission had particular interests that the true accident cause was not made public! So what could the true cause of accident have been?

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30 Consulting of Merchant Marine (CMM Ltd.), Gonsiori 30 - 4, 10128 Tallinn, Postal Address: P.O.Box 5055, EE 11002 Tallinn Tel: +372 (6)010722, 010723, 009740 Fax: +372(6)010722, E-Mail: cmm@online.ee , Out Of Hours: Capt. Uno Laur Mobile: 5015006

31 The writer happened to meet Börje Stenström already Monay 31 October 1994 at the IMO in London, where we both worked in an expert panel about improved oil tanker environmental safety. I congratulated Stenström to his appointment to the Commission and asked if he 1.15 had made a stability calculation for the 'Estonia' with water on the car deck, which would show that the ferry should have turned turtle. Stenström went pale and said that he could not discuss the investigation and that the writer 'didn't understood what was involved'. We met several times 1995/6 and each time Stenström refused to talk about the investigation. In October 1996 Stenström write to the writer termination the friendship. Stenström then died early 1997. At another time the writer met Huss (in August 1997). Huss refused to explain why the 'Estonia' didn't turn turtle with water on the car deck and accused the writer to be 'conspiratorial'. Forssberg wrote to the writer 7 April 1997 saying that he had no intention do discuss the conclusions of the investigation. That discussion should be held among the readers of the report, Forssberg thought.

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