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3.18 The Accident according to the Germans - the Sauna was flooded

The Germans concluded already in 1997, before the Final report (5) of the Commission was published and before they lost their own credibility 1999, after having reviewed the available testimonies (24), that the below facts a) - r) could be established.

Parts of the conclusions a) - r) below had been told to the Commission in a letter of 27 July 1996 (act B155** 1.22).

The Commission made this information secret and it was not made official until March 1998 - three months after the publication of the Final report (5) and two months after the writer's first book (1) was published. The Germans did not protest that they were censored by the Commission.

Note the proposed (German) event c) - that a compartment on deck 0 was flooded and connected - leakage - to the sea, and that the time was 01.02 hrs - fact j)! Water inside the ship just at the time of the sudden listing can only have been caused by leakage below the waterline of the hull.

The leakage of the hull thus must therefore have started earlier but the Germans never present any further thoughts about the matter. Note also fact/event f) that the speed was reduced before 01.02 hrs and the course changed to port. This means that the crew knew that something was wrong, but the Germans do not seem to understand that. Evidently no detailed evidence was produced by the Germans to support their observations.

No German Observations investigated

None of the German conclusions have been investigated by the Commission and none are mentioned in the Final report (5). The writer will not present the background and comments of the German statements here, but one statement - o) - below is definitely not correct. Thus the Germans suggested in 1997 below events left (with the writer's comments right):

a) there was water on the car deck before the accident occurred (the ramp was leaking);

Probably a few tons of water on the car deck due to the leaking visor/ramp!

b) there was also water on deck 1, before the sudden list to starboard occurred (at 01.02 hrs);

Must have come from deck 0 and been caused by a serious leak.

c) the compartment on deck 0 with sauna/swimming pool was flooded and in connection with the outside sea;

It means the ship was leaking! But the Germans do not explain why!

d) the trim had changed since departure from Tallinn, from small stern trim to small bow trim as (i) a result of water in the visor and (ii) water on the car deck due to the leaking ramp and (iii) water on deck 0.

No trim calculations are provided.

e) deck passenger Kikuts observed at 00.29 hrs that the visor was lose ...; severe bangs were heard from the car deck at about 00.45/00.50 hrs ... ;


f) it was apparently reported to the bridge by Silver Linde, and the speed of the ship was reduced (compare 1.4) and the bow was turned into the SW wind/thus to port ... Silver Linde was instructed to close the inner ramp by the hydraulics; he was assisted by, e.g. bosun Aulis Lee and Arne Koppel;126 they tried to stop the visor movements ...

The Germans thus suggest that the ship slowed down and turned before 01.02 hrs, which means that the crew knew something was wrong. In the Final report (5) the speed was maintained long after the sudden listing.

g) ... they started the hydraulic pump at about 01.00 hrs ...


h) ... the visor was moving ... ;


j) at 01.00 hrs the ship was shaken by a hard bang, which according to the survivors cannot have been caused by the waves ... then … at 01.02 hrs the ferry suddenly listed to starboard - estimated angle 50 degrees (persons were standing on the walls) - then up-righted followed by a permanent list at 15 degrees to starboard ... the cargo shifted one meter sideway.

This is the most important observation of the Germans supported by a majority of the survivors 2.1. The sudden loss of stability can only have been caused by a fair amount - 300-500 tons of free water inside the hull on deck 0.

k) the ship continued its port turn ... the port engines stopped at 01.10 hrs;


l) at about 01.16/18 hrs the list was 40 degrees, when Hannes Kadak and Henrik Sillaste left the engine control room ... the bow ramp was still in unchanged position, only partly open (leaking) ... ;

The Germans believe that Kadak/Sillaste stayed 14-16 minutes in the ECR ... doing what? And how could they escape 1.48?

m) when the angle of list exceeded 40 degrees, the auxiliary generator engines stopped and the emergency generator started;


n) you have to assume that the visor separated from the ship at about 01.20 hrs ...;

Why do you have to assume that? The list was 50-60 degrees and the speed was zero. Why would the visor fall off?

o) the ship had a stable (sic) condition with a list 40-50 degrees heading to SE, which meant the opening was 90° from wind and sea;

The stable condition has not been explained. But it must be assumed that many hull compartments were flooded, because the only stable condition with a list of >40 degrees is with about 500-1 000 tons of water on deck 0.

p) the ship was on the side at 01.31 hrs, when the emergency generator stopped;

Probably correct.

r) at 01.53 hrs the 'Estonia' disappeared from the radar screens of the 'Mariella' . The 'Mariella' was then the ship closest to the accident position.

The time should be 01.36 hrs as nobody has presented any evidence that the ship sank at 01.53 hrs. The Germans should know that a ship on the side - 90 degrees list - cannot float another 22 minutes.

The stable Condition

Re point o) above about the stable condition at 40-50° heel, it is an impossible statement unless there is 500-1 000 tons of water on deck 0 at this time. There is no stable condition at that angle of list 1.9 with a dry undamaged hull below deck 2 and with water on deck 2 in the superstructure open to the sea and the deckhouse being flooded.

It must be recalled that the German 'stability' expert was no less than Mr. Veli-Matti Junnila, who had (a) initially approved the stability of the 'Wasa King'/'Estonia' in 1991 and later had provided the Commission with false stability calculations, that the ship was stable with >40 degrees list, 3.12 and 2.17.

The Swimming Pool flooded - the Ship was leaking

The sauna/swimming pool is on deck 0 forward Figure 3.18.1 Swimming pool on deck 0 below cabins nos. 1076-1096 on deck 1

The Germans wrote 1997 in (24) (page 36) just before the Final report (5) was published that

'According to statements of most survivors, in particular of the key witnesses … Passenger CÖ (cabin 1049 - 1st deck) ... Passenger MN - (cabin 1027 - 1st deck), Passenger BN - (cabin 1026 - 1st deck) ... the sequence of events must have been somewhat different from what the JAIC has found and also what the authors Hellberg/Jörle assume in their book 'Katastrofkurs', because ... (b) there was water on the 1st deck, ... , in particular in the forward part, already before the sudden starboard heel occurred; (c) the sauna/swimming pool compartment on 0-deck ... was flooded and under pressure, i.e. open to the sea, before the sudden starboard heel occurred ... '.

Fig. 3.18.2 - Swimminpool on 'Estonia deck 0 recessed into double bottom

The Final report and the Commission evidently never investigated the above statements, which were made just before the Final report (5) was issued and before the suspicions arose that the visor positionwas false. There were at least three separate events according to the Germans before the sudden listing at 01.02 hrs -

(i) water in the sauna/pool compartment on deck 0 in the hull, i.e. hull leakage and

(ii) (old) problems with the visor (and the leaking ramp) at the forward end of the superstructure and

(iii) a decision to slow down and change course.

If you slow down before an incident at 01.02 hrs you know something is wrong. But the Commission maintains that full speed - 15 knots - was maintained until after the 'incident' - the sudden heeling. Actually, there is no evidence that the speed was maintained after the first, sudden listing - just a statement by the Commission.

The old Problem with the Ramp

It seems the Germans believe that at least three persons were in the superstructure on the car deck behind the ramp trying to secure it, when the sudden listing occurred. This is highly unlikely for the following two reasons, A and B, apart from the fact that the best solution would have been to stop for a while with the visor/ramp away from the waves:

(A) The three persons in the superstructure must be able to escape from the no. 2 car deck after the sudden listing to starboard, which was caused by the water in the hull on deck 0 and which they could not have anticipated.
There are only two possibilities:
(i) They could have taken the crew stairs up to the focsle (superstructure weather deck 4) deck forward of the deck house, but then it was impossible to reach open deck 7 port side - they then had to take outside stairs to 5 deck starboard forward stairwell and up to deck 7 starboard side and then cross over to the port side.
(ii) The other alternative was to run aft inside the superstructure on the car deck, which was blocked by shifting cargo, to the first fire door and proceed up the stairwell to deck 4 and then up the main stairwell to deck 7 and out on the port side. In either case it is unlikely that the three persons would have reached open deck 7 port of the deck house.

(B) The sudden listing at 01.02 hrs could not have been caused by water on the car deck in the superstructure, if three persons were actually working there - for any reason. If the ship was trimming on the bow, any water on the car deck in the superstructure would have collected behind the ramp and the three persons would have been drenched - only 600 tons of water in the superstructure would heel the vessel 10 degrees and trim it 1 meter on the bow and would have produced a more than 2 meter high wedge of water behind the ramp! If that were the case, the solution would have been easy - stop the ship, put the bow away from wind and waves, lift the visor, open the ramp - and the water would have flowed out by itself! Remember the car deck in the superstructure was >2 meters above the (original) waterline or 1.5 meter above the waterline taking account of the trim.

It was no danger of the ship with only 600 tons of water in the superstructure - only a terrible nuisance. The ship would still float on the hull - even if the sauna compartment was flooded.

This writer therefore does not believe the German suggestion that the three persons were working inside the superstructure with the ramp at 01.00 hrs. They may have been working there or on the open deck 4 earlier to secure the ramp with ropes, but the main problem was evidently the water on deck 0 in the hull, and it could only have been caused by a serious leakage.

Why the Germans never spell out clearly that the 'Estonia' was in fact leaking before the sudden listing is not clear. The Germans finally suggest that the ship sank due to bad maintenance, which is nonsense. Bad maintenance is not the proximate cause of the accident - only a contributory cause.

Strangely enough the Germans never pursue the statements of Sillaste 1.3 that he had started the bilge pumps to pump compartments on deck 0 dry - before the sudden listing!

Speed reduced before the Accident - Crew aware of Problems - no Alarm

It is interesting to note that the Germans suggest, based on unknown testimonies, that the speed was reduced before the sudden listing. It means of course that the crew and the Master were aware of some problem - probably leakage - as you do not slow down in the middle of the ocean at night unless something is seriously wrong and then the Master is informed. Maybe the Master was on the bridge already at 00.50 hrs (or earlier) after having been alerted at 00.45 hrs (or earlier) - such information the Commission had to censor, as it indicated that the crew was aware of a problem long before the ship listed at 01.02 hrs - or according to the Commission at 01.15 hrs. The Germans never comment upon the fact that no alarm was raised, when the speed was reduced.

The Germans believe that two (or three) persons in the ECR escaped 14-16 minutes after the sudden listing, but this is hardly realistic or logic 1.48. They could not get out so late, but the Germans apparently believe so.

The German early assumption that the visor fell off about 18 minutes after the sudden listing was probably based on the information that the visor was allegedly found 1 560 meters West of the wreck. The Commission evidently suggests that the 'Estonia' then at 01.15 hrs was heading West, while the Germans propose that the 'Estonia' then at 01.20 hrs was heading East at no or little speed, but the Germans never attempt to recreate the course of events before or after the sudden listing (heading West) at 01.02 hrs, after the loss of the visor (heading East) at 01.20 hrs and before the sinking, which the Germans believe took place at after 01.50 hrs. It is more likely that the visor was attached to the ship, when it sank. Later the Germans have hinted that so was the case.

The 'Estonia' sank at 01.35 hrs

That the 'Estonia' sank at 01.35 hrs (and not 01.53 hrs) is based on the statement of the mate of the 'Mariella'.

The Commission apparently changed the sinking time to 01.53 hrs to permit the vessel to drift to the wreck position in dr Huss' false plot, which the Germans never noted.

Actually the sinking time 01.53 is absolutely false and manipulated by the Commission. The reason is that the Commission decided to change the time of the 'accident' - the listing and the alleged loss of visor from 01.02 to 01.15 hrs, i.e. 13 minutes delay. Then neither the Commission nor dr Huss could admit that the ship sank as early as 01.35 hrs, because it was then too short time to sink and drift, so they added, in a first attempt 13 minutes, when the ship was sinking at 01.48 hrs, and later 17-18 minutes, when the official sinking time became 01.52-01.53 hrs to enable the ship to drift Northeast >1 200 meters at >2,2 knots the last 20 minutes.

That everything the Commission suggested about the sinking are lies has been shown in 1.9, but the Germans have never pointed this out in their reports. Actually, the Germans have ignored every observation in this book. Is it because the 'Viking Sally' that later became the 'Estonia' was badly - incompetently - designed and built at 1979 with 22 watertight doors and defective life saving equipment? Could not the Germans admit that there were some inherent defects in the ferry?

The Commission has, as stated earlier, always refused to comment upon the German observations, 1.19 and 1.22. The reason was to avoid any discussion about the Commission's own fantasies.

Of course - the Ship should have capsized

The Germans developed and modified their conclusions 1997-1999. In 1999 a leakage of the hull below waterline must have contributed to - but not caused? - the accident, the Germans thought, but they had still no idea what caused the leakage. In an interview in the Swedish daily newspaper FinansTidningen 12 August 1999 by KC the Germans (WH) explained:


WH: ... the 'Estonia' should not have sunk, if she had been properly maintained and if the owners had followed the safety rules, SOLAS. The main reason for the accident was that the ship was not seaworthy ... If the visor and ramp had been properly closed and locked the accident would not have occurred. ... the ramp was damaged and impossible to lock.

KC: ... Already in June 1997 you discussed a leak forward below the waterline.

WH: Yes, but we do not know where and how it developed. Survivors stated that ... deck 1 was under pressure from below, from the sauna and conference compartments.

KC: Several persons have suggested that, if the 'Estonia' had only had water on the car deck, she should have tipped upside down and floated upside down like the 'Jan Heweliusz' and other ro-ro-ferries.

WH: Yes of course. It is what happens with water on the car deck ... It is common knowledge.130

KC: If there is a hull damage - a leak - where is it?

WH: We do not know. Everything from the starboard bottom ... has been edited away (cut off) from the video films of the wreck (between the bridge and the funnel).


On 30 December 1999 the German group of experts handed in its Final report to a court at Stockholm. A few days later the Swedish 'Estonia' minister Ms Mona Sahlin stated that it didn't contain any new revelations.

New Findings never investigated

The German final report contains at least eleven additional new allegations, without complete evidence, which had not been reported before and which, evidently, are not examined in the Commission's Final report (5) Appendix 5. The new allegations are below left (with some writer's comments right):

1. 'The Estonia' was leaking already at departure Tallinn - some double bottom tanks on starboard side were leaking and could not be pumped dry. Therefore the port heeling tank was filled to compensate the imbalance.

Not proven. There is no evidence that the port heeling tank was ever filled.

2. The Utö-plot exists and shows how i.a. the 'Estonia' took the course along the Finnish coats, and later turned South-west-south, etc.

It also shows that the 'Estonia' slowed down and turned before 01.00 hrs and sank at 01.36 hrs.

3. Silver Linde raised alarm at about 00.45 hrs about large amounts of water on the car deck.

See below. The alarm was about water on deck 0!?

4. A seaman was ordered to make the lifeboats ready before the sudden listing occurred.


5. Both Treu and Sillaste state that the bow ramp was closed after the bangs at 01.00 hrs and the sudden listing at 01.02 hrs. The ramp had been raised and secured manually by rope in the port basin at Tallinn.

Correct - thus very little water could have entered at the ramp. And if the ramp was secured by ropes it could hardly be pulled open.

6. The crew worked with the visor- and ramp-hydraulics on the car deck before the listing.

Why would they do that?

7. Several passengers saw the visor, when they were on the side of the sinking ship.

Probably correct - the visor was still attached to the superstructure.

8. The visor fell off, when the list was 135 degrees, when the starboard hydraulic piston was ripped out, and the visor ended up on the bottom just beside the wreck. There it was located a few days after the accident.

Or it hanged on to the wreck, when the ship sank.

9. MOB-boat was found 8,5 miles South of the wreck on 29 September.

Correct position is 35 miles East of the wreck.

10. Two survivors in life rafts saw the MOB-boat leaving the ship.


11. All video films of the diving have been edited in a systematical manner - sequences of identical areas filmed on all films, e.g. the forward starboard side between bilge and car deck have been cut away.


These new, fantastic observations, which contradict many earlier German suggestions, support the theory of the writer that a severe leak in the hull below the waterline caused the accident and that the crew must have been aware of it before the listing occurred. The Germans may have misunderstood Linde - it must have been a serious leak on deck 0 - not the car deck - that Linde (or Treu) raised an alarm about at 00.45 hrs and that was why they slowed down.

The ramp on the car deck in the superstructure was evidently also leaking all the time, but it did not cause the accident. It was only when the hull started to leak and when water flowed in on deck 0 in the hull that the trim changed and leak water started to collect inside the ramp on the no. 2 car deck/superstructure. Then there were two bangs - the ship may have got even trim, while pitching - and the little water on the car deck flowed aft and was heard by the passengers on deck 1 below. Then there was the sudden listing due to massive amounts of free water on deck 0. That the ramp was then still closed is obvious. The ramp was obviously closed all the time, even if the Germans never make a big point about it.

The German Final Report - vital Information missing - no Logic

The German Final report is available on the Internet at www.estoniaferrydisaster.net. It contains a lot of valuable information.

However it also lacks a lot of very vital information;

stability data,
bilge pump data,
escape routes from the ECR and the engine room,
lifesaving equipment and procedures,
watertight subdivision and 22 watertight doors,
a plot of the various events, etc., etc.

The German Final report only mirrors the official report (5) and points out many errors in the latter.

The Germans never dared to state that all essential information in the official report (5) is false and that plenty of information was completely missing.

This is one of the reasons for this book.

Strange Behaviour

The Germans have in fact behaved very strange towards this investigator. The Germans had regularly asked the writer for information and have even visited the writer's office and the writer has provided all information available in (1) and in this book.

The Germans have repeatedly proposed to the writer that his stability calculations 2.17 are wrong! But it is not the writer's stability calculations - it is basic, elementary stability calculations taught in schools.

For several years the Germans disagreed, like Stenström, with the simple conclusion that the 'Estonia' would have immediately capsized and floated upside down with >1 500 tons of water on the car deck in the superstructure.

It is one of the mysteries of the Germans! Why did they never point out this basic lie of the Commission - that water would only capsize the ship?

Furthermore, the Germans have withheld a lot of information from the writer, e.g. simple drawings of the ship, escape arrangements, swimmingpool design, etc.

The German Final report also includes information about various strange damages - e.g. holes in various plates - in the fore ship of the superstructure, which explosive devices are assumed to have caused before the 'accident'. The Commission denies their existence in spite of the fact that the damages can be seen on the video films taken. And there is no logic in the German reasoning: on the one hand the crew was trying to secure the ramp from inside, on the other hand unknown persons were blowing off the visor outside the ramp at the same time.

The Germans must have been asked by the Commission to present a stupid report - a little criticism of the Commission but not too much. And to add some conspiracy theories! This writer believes that the Germans and the Commission are today cooperating in confusing the public.

Stupid Conspiracy Theories

Various conspiracy theorists - including the Germans - suggest that the explosive devices exploded, when the ship was still afloat, in an attempt to stop the ship - and to sink it!

The conclusion is silly - if anybody would have blown off the visor, the ramp would only have got stuck in its frame, etc. and nothing would have happened.

This writer believes the damages in the fore ship of the superstructure were caused under water in (a) successful attempt to remove the visor from the bow, so that it sank to the bottom 10-15 meters below the bow, and (b) in an unsuccessful attempt to open the ramp. The reason for this strange and unusual undertaking must have been to give credibility to the alleged cause of accident of the Commission that the visor had (c) fallen off the superstructure under way and (d) pulled open the ramp. This very peculiar job should have taken place 3-4 October 1994.

It is thus easy to verify - check the video films taken on 2 October 1994 and compare with the films taken on 9 October 1994! The big hole in the front bulkhead 3.10 should have been made between 2 and 8 October 1994 under water to remove the visor. Strangely enough the Germans never pointed out this evident damage.

More comments about the German report Appendix 9.

So what caused the damages to the visor? A collision?


126 Lee and Koppel were rescued aboard the 'Mariella', 1.41 and 1.42.

130 But not reported in the German final report, 2.16 and 2.17.

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