Welcome to a chapter of the e-book Disaster Investigation.
3.13 The German Group of Experts
Already 1994 the Commission suggested that the accident was caused by a 'design fault', which a German shipyard at Papenburg had done in 1979. The German shipyard let its lawyers appoint an independent group of experts 1995 to check and to verify the investigation of the Commission and to do its own investigation.
Captain Werner Hummel at Hamburg led the German group of experts. Werner Hummel and the writer have in common to have worked for the same marine accident investigation company, Scandinavian Underwriters Agency at Rotterdam and Hamburg at different times 1978-1988.
The German shipyard acted correctly 1994. If you are accused, like Alfred Dreyfus 1894 - 100 years earlier, to have committed a crime with which you have noting to do, you have to defend yourself. When the accusations come from government authorities, it does not help to accuse them in turn for errors and incompetence and political considerations.
The German group of expert made an excellent job to verify (24) the actual conditions of the visor and ramp before the accident and to document what actually happened aboard by interviewing survivors and other persons involved with the ship. The only outside party that the Commission (Stenström) ever talked to was the German group of experts. Stenström asked for information and tried to manipulate the yard to confirm the false allegations of the Commission.
The German group of experts published it findings at regular intervals and changed its opinions about the events during its long investigation when new facts emerged. The German Final report was published on the Internet summer 2000 at http://www.estoniaferrydisaster.net.
The big Error of the Germans - no Stability Calculations
The German group of experts made a big error at the beginning. They believed the story of the Commission that it was the visor - and water on the car deck in the superstructure - that caused the accident. The Germans never studied the stability of the 'Estonia' with water in the superstructure, which would have told them to look elsewhere for the real cause of accident.
So the Germans started by checking the actual condition of the visor and the ramp - it was not such a bad idea after all.
The Germans apparently did not understand that the Commission was presenting false information from the start. When the Germans provided the Commission with various information in August 1995 and January 1996 without getting any reply; 1.19, 1.22 and 1.44, they should have become suspicious.
The findings of the German group of experts at various times are described in the following chapters. The Germans found that the condition and maintenance of the 'Estonia' were not very good, later they found information to the effect that the 'Estonia' must have been leaking, and finally they found information about damages caused by explosives down on the superstructure bow of the wreck.
The Germans could never make any sense of all this information - except that the Commission was not doing a correct job. Unfortunately the Germans never suggested that the Commission was a fraud.