Welcome to a chapter of the e-book Disaster Investigation.
The ferry suffered according to Linde and others, 1.4 and 2.1, from a heavy bang at about 00.55 hrs and later there was water on deck 1 at 00.58 hrs. Water had probably leaked in on deck 0 earlier and started to spill out on deck 1 later. The writer has no idea what the 'causa proxima' for the leakage was - an explosion? Or a collision?
The German group of experts believes that an explosive device 3.18 between visor and ramp contributed to, but did not cause (?), the accident. The Germans state that they have seen typical damages due to explosive devices inside of the ramp, on the outside of the ramp and elsewhere at the bow 3.10.
Evidently an explosion between visor and ramp of the superstructure could not cause the ship to sink. It is more likely that the explosive damages were caused after the accident, when the visor was removed using explosives (!) to support the false cause of accident - defective visor locks.
Linde told DN that it was a severe bang, when he was on the car deck already at about 00.55 hrs. The Commission avoided carefully to mentioning that time and to examining the 'Estonia' for other damages than at the visor.
An explosion is however possible.
Dangerous cargo may have leaked out on the car deck and may have flowed to the scuppers. On some ferries the scuppers are connected to collection tanks port and starboard, e.g. the heeling tanks, so that, e.g. oil shall not leak out in the sea and cause pollution. The actual arrangement of the 'Estonia' is not described in the Final report (5). The collection tanks are (should be) arranged with alarms, if they fill up. It is possible that an explosive mix developed in a collection tank and exploded causing the leakage. The matter has not been investigated.
The crew may have done repair work using welding and that may have tripped an explosion in a tank with hydrocarbon gas.
They may also have been in the pool or sewage tanks compartment trying to stop a leak. The whole engine crew except some engineers survived the accident 1.42. Survivors have testified that many of the engine crew were dressed in boiler suites, when they were rescued - were they doing repair work, when the ship sank? The Commission has not investigated that matter either.
Some assume that the starboard stabilizer foundation may have broken and caused the leakage on deck 0 2.23. The Commission suggested that the stabilizers were activated at 00.15 or 00.30 hrs but later examination (see below) of the wreck shows that the stabilizers are inside their pockets.
The Final report of the German expert's group 3.13 has a strange Note in its chapter 6.5.2 of http://www.estoniaferrydisaster.net/estonia/index.html: It is in connection with the certification of the ship and the missing collision bulkhead behind the ramp and what the Swedish NMA had done to assist the Class Bureau Veritas (B.V.) in this respect:
Note: When the co-operation between B.V. and Sjöfartsverket in connection with the flag change procedure was discussed with Ulf Beijner - the head of the Sjöfartsverket Inspection office Stockholm at that time and in this capacity in charge of the ESTONIA matter - he fully agreed to the developments and sequence-of-events explained on the previous pages, but when it came to the causative connection between the missing "partial collision door" and the catastrophe, he strongly rejected this connection with reference to the explosion hole in the starboard side in way of the 0-deck, which in his opinion was the cause of the sinking.
It seems the German experts discussed an explosion hole in the starboard side in way of the deck 0 with a Swedish NMA ship safety inspector Ulf Beijner and that Beijner thought this hole caused the sinking - but this explosion hole is never further mentioned by the Germans. And it has not been seen on any video films of the wreck or by independent divers (see below).
The sudden List
We know what happened at 01.02/5 hrs. There was a sudden, violent list. Passengers were thrown out of their beds, tables and chairs fell down to starboard lee, people lost balance and were thrown into walls, the soda automate slid from port to starboard, glass fell in the shops, in the casino cards and chips flow away, bottles and a bar counter fell over, etc.
It can only have been caused by sudden loss of initial stability caused by free water on deck 0 as shown in 2.16 and 2.17. And that water must be given time to enter the ship. Thus the leakage must have occurred earlier.
We know that Sillaste 1.3 was called up to repair something 30 minutes before the sudden list. He says it was the toilet system, but it does not ring true. It could have been fixed in the morning. Sillaste has repeatedly stated that the bilge pumps were running. Bilge pumps are only used, when a ship is leaking and sinking! We also know that many survivors heard two big 'bangs' one or two minutes before the sudden listing 2.12. Were they explosions? Probably not. It is possible that the watertight doors under full water pressure were opened by mistake after one or two compartments were flooded 2.1 and that it caused the bangs. But what caused the leakage that flooded the hull, we do not know. And what caused the water to spread, we do not know. It was probably open watertight doors. But we know that the ship a few minutes later reached a stable position - albeit with a 15 degrees list - which enabled many passengers to escape to open deck. This can only have been caused by water in the starboard bilges on deck 0 in the hull. Leaking, sinking ships with water in the hull often lose their initial, upright stable position and reach a stable position at an angle of heel before final sinking.
Gregg Bemis finds explosive Damages
The divers of Gregg Bemis in August 2000, 1.16 and 2.24, made a very simple hull examination and found the stabilizers inside their pockets. It was news. We had earlier been told that the fins had been outside, when the ship sank. The divers Bemis could not examine the inside of the pockets. The hull damage causing the leak is probably not big - only 0,2 m². To find it in the dark at 80 metres depth is not an easy task. If the leak is a long shell fracture that only opened up elastically by water pressure during the sinking and later closed itself, it is even more difficult to see.
We now know that the Commission for unknown reasons blamed the accident on the visor. We know that that cause is not possible. We know that the Commission manipulated the investigation and wrote a manipulated Final Report (5). And we now know that the Commission has hidden damages caused by explosives!
The divers of Gregg Bemis found a big damage in the starboard collision (front) bulkhead of the superstructure which the Commission has failed to record, examine and photograph. The damage is fully described in 3.10 and can be seen in this window.
The damage cannot have been caused by an explosive device between visor and ramp, because when the visor is closed it is, say, only 5-10 centimetres in front of the relevant bulkhead. There is no space to fit an explosive device.
The explosive device seems instead to have been positioned behind the bulkhead, i.e. inside the ship superstructure in a small space/room with the hydraulics of the visor and ramp about 6-7 meters above the waterline - at deck 3 level.
The Commission has stated that the starboard superstructure front bulkhead is only torn open at the top - in way of the focsle deck - at deck 4 level. It has stated that that damage is smaller than on the port side.
The damage in the middle of the starboard collision bulkhead at deck 3 level is apparently not connected to the damage at the top at deck 4 level. The damage at the top is about 9 meters above the waterline. The damage in the middle of the bulkhead is 6-7 meters above the waterline.
Evidently neither damage caused the hull leakage that sank the 'Estonia'.
There is the strong possibility (99%) that the damage in the collision bulkhead was caused under water, i.e. the visor was detached under water using explosives.
The Commission has, as repeatedly been said in
this book, never advised the media or public that
there is a major damage in the middle of the
starboard collision bulkhead outside the ramp frame
and just above the visor side lock. Karppinen in
his fax to Stenström on 10 October 1994
1.14 stated that
the collision bulkhead was undamaged as per figure
2.18.1 right - the starboard collision bulkhead was
only torn out a little at the top. The relevant
damage is just above letter A - starboard side lock
- on the left side. Figure 2.18.1 -
Appendix to fax 10 October 1994 - Summary of
damages at the bow (act
The Commission has, as repeatedly been said in this book, never advised the media or public that there is a major damage in the middle of the starboard collision bulkhead outside the ramp frame and just above the visor side lock. Karppinen in his fax to Stenström on 10 October 1994 1.14 stated that the collision bulkhead was undamaged as per figure 2.18.1 right - the starboard collision bulkhead was only torn out a little at the top. The relevant damage is just above letter A - starboard side lock - on the left side.
Figure 2.18.1 - Appendix to fax 10 October 1994 - Summary of damages at the bow (act I16)
The writer believes that explosive devices were used under water in a successful attempt to remove the visor from the bow (the visor was still hanging on to the bow under water) and in an unsuccessful attempt to open the ramp 4.4.
Why would anybody remove a visor from a sunk vessel? The only reason seems to be that you then could blame the accident on the lost visor! But if the visor was not lost before the accident, what caused the two bangs heard just before the sudden listing? A collision?