Welcome to a chapter of the e-book Disaster Investigation.
2.9 Car Deck Safety Rules aboard the 'Estonia' was working
The car deck/superstructure space of the 'Estonia' was arranged according SOLAS II-1, rule 23-2, 1 - (open-closed hull door indication), 2 - (TV supervision and or leak alarms) and 3 - (manual patrol every hour) to alert about water on the car deck in the superstructure which could cause list. It is not pointed out in the Final Report (5). The Commission instead tried to show that all three existing safety means to detect water in the superstructure of the 'Estonia' did not function.
There is no evidence that the existing safety means on the car deck in the superstructure of the 'Estonia' did not comply with the SOLAS.99
But on the other hand the opposite cannot be proven. Did the side and end door indications work? Did the TV-monitor work? And did they have manual patrol each hour? The Commission never described the existing rule requirements.
99 The writer is quite surprised how many maritime administrations have concluded that the existing SOLAS rules did not contribute to the safety of the 'Estonia' and that the only solution is another requirement - to survive with 0,5 meters of water on top of the car deck in the superstructure several meters above (!) the waterline, etc. Probably it was due to bad information about the 'Estonia' accident.
2.10 The Responsibility of the Visor Locks
The Commission has concluded that the deficient strength of the visor locks was the main cause of the accident - the locks were incorrectly manufactured in 1979/1980.
According the SOLAS and the Load Line Convention responsibility for the strength of doors and locks in the superstructure belong to the maritime administration, in this case the Estonian administration. The Class is not responsible for visor lock designs!
This is not mentioned in the Final Report (5).
Johan Franson states in the Swedish daily Göteborgs Posten on 28 February 2001 that
the 'Estonia' sank after her bow visor had been ripped off and pulled open the ramp. The weaknesses of construction, which together with severe weather, caused this can never be detected by training of Port State Control, by a Port State Control done in Sweden or at a periodic inspection by any maritime administration. It is something which must be detected at the new building inspection'.
The statement by the Swedish NMA director of safety at sea Johan Franson that a weakness in ship construction cannot be detected at a later examination has no foundation in reality and is an insult to all ship surveyors and inspectors. Everybody knows that Franson is politically appointed by the Swedish government to cover up the 'Estonia' accident investigation.
The writer has 1966-2001 surveyed 100's of ships and has noted both weaknesses and actual defects and errors. The possibility is fairly large that some defects are not discovered at the new building survey (and testing) - they are noted later, when the ship is used in its normal environment - hopefully during the guarantee period - but naturally also later. Everybody knows the famous U-curve? Most defects develop the first year - and at the end of the ship's life. Therefore surveys become more detailed with time. A design weakness develops by fatigue in the material and details, which cannot be detected at a new building survey (the material/detail has not been subject to fatigue) or testing.
The Franson statement is very revealing. Franson knows that the bow visor was fitted with hinges on top of the superstructure (on deck 4) and that the visor only protected the weathertight ramp at the forward end of the superstructure. Neither the visor nor the ramp is part of the ship's hull. Water loaded inside the superstructure of any ship above the waterline does not sink it. That water will only capsize the ship. This simple fact could not be told 1994 and the sad thing is that the Swedish NMA must maintain that lie six years after the 'Estonia' accident. And not only that - the Swedish NMA states that it is not even responsible for the strength and weather tighness of doors leading into the superstructure of a ship.