The M/S Estonia Accident investigation
The biggest Fraud in Maritime History
Faulty Findings 1994-2004
Anders Björkman of Heiwa Co - European Agency for Safety at Sea!


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 19 Years since the M/S 'Estonia' Accident


Beausoleil 28 September 2013

It is today 19 years since the 'Estonia' sank in the Baltic on the 28 September 1994 and the cause of the accident still is a mystery. Many people - or a gullible majority - believes that the accident was caused by defective visor locks as officially concluded by the Joint Accident Investigation Commission, JAIC, in its Final report published in December 1997. All essential facts in the Final report are false or manipulated. How the JAIC managed that is explained in my book Disaster Investigation.

Immediately after the accident there was total confusion what could have caused the accident, but after a few days the authorities and Swedish media only mentioned only one cause - the ship's bow visor had been forced open by very heavy wave impacts on it (that nobody heard), the visor had been knocked off (that nobody noticed), an internal ramp had been pulled open (the crew didn't see it but reported it was closed after capsize) and seawater had entered into the ship's superstructure 2-3 meters above waterline, when it pitched down into the waves. The result had been capsize upside down after 20 minutes and complete sinking after another 20 minutes.

One week (4 October 1994) after the accident the JAIC, not formally constituted, confirmed this strange cause of accident in its First Interim Report and added that the visor had been lost underway some time before the capsize, and from then on, no other causes of accident were ever investigated. The public was told that underwater filming of the wreck had confirmed that the visor was missing … and therefore must have been lost before the capsize and sinking ... and caused the accident.

There is no evidence that this allegation is true. And the vessel never capsized - it sank - without capsize! Apparently with the visor still in place!

But three weeks after the accident (18 October 1994) the visor was officially found - a mile West of the wreck!

There is no evidence that this is true either!

In all probability the visor was at the wreck at this time! It had been removed from the wreck by Swedish navy divers using explosives and dropped down on the sea floor below the bow.

It is very likely that the whole investigation was based on these three initial lies, because the visor no doubt was found attached to the wreck, when it was filmed 30 September. The visor story of the lost visor was cleverly planted when millions of people were shocked of 852 drowned victims and when critical voices about the cause was not yet heard.

Then followed three years of secret 'investigations' of events and causes. The public had no access to the JAIC meetings and all essential evidence was kept secret. This was totally illegal but nobody seemed to care! The JAIC met more than 20 times to write an investigation report (and to wine and dine and fuck around) why the visor had caused the accident, which was duly published in December 1997. At regular intervals 1994-1997 the JAIC re-confirmed the only official cause - the visor had fallen off, later clarified due to defective visor locks, enormous waves had struck off the visor, seawater had entered the ship (or rather the superstructure of the ship - a big difference) and caused first capsize (that never happened) at 01.15 hrs, and later sinking, at about 01.50 hrs. All relevant findings from underwater filmings and a dive examination of the wreck 1994 were manipulated and/or censored to suit the inventions. Public discussion of the cause of accident was 'meaningless'.

A self-appointed Group of German Experts tried to do its own casualty investigation 1995-1998. It failed completely. It never understood that the vessel neither capsized nor lost its visor as alleged by the JAIC. It never managed to conclude that the alleged causes could not have contributed to the alleged events. Later it published a strange report - a mirror picture of the JAIC report - only pointing out errors in the latter, but never suggesting that all essential information was falsified! The Germans used the same stability experts as JAIC and the ship owner to cover up the Truth. The Germans ignored all information provided by Heiwa Co at meetings both at Hamburg and Beausoleil. It seems that the Germans were manipulated by the JAIC.

When the JAIC Final report was at last issued many international professional bodies criticized its content that it didn't make any sense. The JAIC obviously never really responded to the criticism. Thus followed another three years of one-sided debate. Valid criticism was raised while the authorities or responsible parties refused to reply, except stating that the JAIC Final report was 100% correct or other nonsense. However, in October 2000 the Swedish government requested a review of the criticism, e.g. raised in the writer's book Katastrofutredning (Disaster Investigation). A typical reply was, e.g. by Ms Ann Louise Eksborg, Swedish JAIC chairperson and then director of the Swedish Accident Investigation Board, SHK, who signed the Final report 1997, in a letter to the government 16 October 2000, ref. SHK A62/00:

"In conclusion you can say that the main traits in the sequence of events and in the connexion of causes of the JAIC Final report are based on several secured and proven relations and facts, where it is practically impossible to see that a new independent investigation shall be able to conclude an essentially different result".

The Swedish government only listened to Ms Eksborg, a woman with a look between an apostle and a jail bird, and no further official investigations were ordered in April 2001, except that the Swedish Board of Psychological Defence, SPF, should assemble a 'Memory Bank' of 'Estonia' accident information and make a study to explain the sinking - or water filling of the 'Estonia', which the JAIC hade never done during its three years of 'investigation'. Why water in the superstructure would cause sinking of the hull was never explained ... and is still, 19 years after the accident, not explained, and there is no evidence that there was water on the car deck causing the accident. The government also decided to support safety at sea research! This is another sad story - how SEK 25 millions were swindled away 2001-2002 and another SEK 20 millions 2003-2004 by the government innovation agency Vinnova (in Swedish only) - and only relevant to the 'Estonia' story, as the money seems to be payments to qualified Swedish people to shut up!

Then, 2001-2004, followed the last act of the present drama which is still going on; numerous debates in the Swedish Parliament and Constitutional Commission and the SPF failure to assemble the 'Memory Bank' and to explain the water filling of the superstructure and the deckhouse and sinking of the hull,even if falsified information and calculation methods were again shamelessly used. On 28 September 2004 at 16.00 hrs the SPF arranges a meeting at Stockholm, Sweden, to commemorate the event 10 years ago. The King and Queen of Sweden, the prime minister and the Speaker of the Parliament are asked to attend. No doubt the King's chief of staff, admiral Frank Rosenius, will assist in the background, smiling like a forger in an anchor forge (or torpedo workshop), when the visor story is reiterated.

Legal proceedings had of course started early to find the real cause and the responsible party but during every phase of the above developments any legal proceedings were delayed or postponed for various reason.

And this is the situation today of the most shocking and tragic marine accident in Europe after the Second World War - no explanation what happened has been given except a false Final report, 19 years of denials of any wrong doings by several governments, authorities and legal courts and continued cover-ups of any attempts to clarify matters, e.g. the water filling study of admiral Rosenius. Safety at sea is sadly a bad joke in Sweden, Finland and Estonia.

The only forum where the matter is still open is at the legal Court of Paris, France. To assist the complaining party at Paris to get a favourable verdict, below follows some pertinent observations how to convince the Court that, e.g. the present official and only investigation is faulty and cannot be trusted and must be re-done. It is very easy. The official Final report contains 61 (sixty-one) official Findings on pages 223-224. All Conclusions (pages 225-226) and Recommendations (pages 227-228) are based on these Findings. If/as any Findings are found incorrect, the Conclusions and Recommendations cannot be correct. So below follows why all essential Findings are faulty (falsified, untrue, based on manipulated information, pure inventions, etc).

There are 61 relevant or irrelevant Findings (points) on pages 223-224 in the Final report to prove that the visor caused the accident. All of these relevant Findings cannot be proven or are intentionally falsified as described in the below table of some typical Findings (references are made to other pages of this web site where the falsifications are explained), thus you should conclude the complete sequence of official events is an invention - there is no evidence for any essential, relevant Findings.


Official Finding

Why the Finding is not correct



Ship's condition
The vessel was seaworthy and properly manned.

No valid certificates are provided in the Final report
to this effect and, e.g. the life saving appliances, the evacuation plan and the watertight subdivision (watertight doors) were not as per regulations. The ship was not seaworthy as per any international and national laws. But the ship did not sink because it was unseaworty or carried false certificates - the ship sank because it was leaking in the hull (not investigated by the JAIC).



The failure sequence may have started at about 0055 hrs when the AB seaman heard a metallic bang at the bow ramp.

No failure is proven
According to the first interview of the AB seaman by the Swedish daily Dagens Nyheter published on 7 October the AB seaman was on the car deck at 0040 hrs and heard a loud bang not associated with the bow. Reports that the bilge pumps had started and that the engine room was flooded (indicating hull leakage) were quickly censored.



The locking devices and the hinges of the bow visor failed fully under one or two wave impact loads on the visor shortly after 0100 hrs.

The allegation is impossible (an invention) and not even the explanations of the Final report (pp 180-181) support the Finding.



The visor worked its way forward and forced the ramp partly open due to mechanical intereference between the visor and the ramp, inherent in the design. Water started entering the car deck at the sides of the partly open ramp.

Not proven (another invention). Wave forces acting in the aft direction and a strong deck beam prevented the visor to move forward. The ramp locks are not damaged.



The ramp rested for a while within the visor before the visor at about 0115 hrs fell into the sea, pulling the ramp fully open.

Not proven (a third invention). There is no evidence that the visor fell off or the ramp was pulled fully open at any time, including 0115 hrs. What most survivors said is shown below. The visor position is not proven



Large amounts of water entered the car deck and in a few minutes a starboard list of 15° developed.

No capsize
A majority of survivors stated that the ship suddenly lost its initial stability and rolled twice >30° to starboard at about 0102 hrs and then stabilized itself at about 10-15° list to starboard for sufficient time enabling them to evacuate. The vessel never capsized! It was always stable, albeit with a list, while it sank (due to water leaking into the hull below the car deck).



The main engines stopped at about 0120 hrs ...

Not proven - information that the vessel slowed down before the sudden listing has not been investigated, as it was a sign that the crew was aware of the hull leakage.



The vessel drifted with her starboard side towards the waves.

Not proven and impossible. Assisting ships observed the ESTONIA immobile in the water ... no drifting ... from the time of the MAYDAY (0122 hrs) and until the sinking about 0135 hrs. The JAIC suggests that the sinking vessel drifted at a speed >2.2 knots for more than 30 minutes, which is impossible



At about 0125 hrs the list was more than 40°. By then windows and a door had broken in the aft part on the starboard side, allowing progressive flooding of the accommodation. ...

At 40° list due only to water in the superstructure the non-watertight deck house is immediately flooded and the ship should have capsized, i.e. turned and floated upside down on the undamaged hull. But no capsize took place.



As the list increased the ESTONIA started to sink stern first. At about 0135 hrs the list was about 80°.

Not proven. At 0135 hrs the ESTONIA had probably already sunk without capsizing due to leakage of the hull, which has not been investigated. The visor was then evidently still attached to the ship! It had never come lose!
Furthermore the JAIC cannot explain why the ship would start to sink at this time due to water loaded in the superstructure two meters above waterline! Elementary stability calculations of the ship and flooding calculations of the superstructure would indicate that the ship would have capsized and floated upside down already before Finding 14 took place!



The vessel disappeared from the surface at about 0150 hrs.

Not proven. As stated in 14 the sinking was observed at 0135 hrs.



Action by the crew
Two reports of unusual sounds from the bow area were given to the officers on the watch, the first about 20 minutes prior to the loss of the visor.

The Finding is based on statements of only one survivor, the AB seaman, who has given different accounts of what he did or did not do or hear at various times - thus not proven. In all probability the AB seaman gave an accurate description of what happened in the DN inteview - see 8, and was later forced by the JAIC to change his story to suit the JAIC inventions.



Attempts were made to find the reason for the sounds.

See 18 - not proven. Based of one person's testimony - the AB seaman's.



The master arrived at the bridge and was present when the second attempt was initiated shortly after 0100 hrs.

See 18 - not proven. As stated in 12 the sudden listing took place at that time (starting about 0102 hrs). One reason why JAIC delayed the time seems to have been to get the master on the bridge before the accident.


The speed setting was maintained until the list developed. At about 0100 hrs the speed was about 14 knots ...

Not proven - see 13 - an invention. There is no evidence about these matters in the Final report. The last hour of the Estonia is totally unaccounted for.


The visor indicator lamps on the bridge did not show when the visor was detached ...

There is no evidence that the visor was ever detached ... (it is an invention).


The ingress of water at the sides of the partly open bow ramp was observed on a monitor in the engine control room, but no information was exchanged with the bridge.

The Final report contains three testimonies from crewmembers in the engine control room on deck 1 that the bow ramp was in the closed position two minutes after the sudden rollings/listing, thus water on the car deck could not have caused the listing. This was allegedly seen by the seamen in the control room. Much later the same seamen miraculously escaped from the control room on deck 1 to deck 8, which was impossible! There is no evidence that the three witnesses were in the control room at 0115-0122 hrs. They had probably escaped much earlier. According to the Final report there were several telephone calls between bridge and engine control room (but no evidence).








As the list developed the officers of the watch reduced speed and initiated at turn to port. They also ordered the engineer to compensate for the list by pumping ballast, but the pump sucked air and, furthermore, the tank was almost full. The officers of the watch also closed the watertight doors.

There is no evidence of any of these actions - they are all inventions to add substance to the official fairy tale. And even if the turn took place after the visor was lost, the vessel could never reach the position where she sank (1 560 m East of the visor). In all probability the vessel just stopped soon after the first listing (and the visor never fell off).



Tecnical matters
There were no detailed design requirements for bow visors in the rules of Bureau Veritas, the classification society concerned, at the time of the building of the ESTONIA

This Finding is cleverly misleading as a bow visor locking arrangement is generally not a responsibility of a classification society (even if rules are provided to estimate the loads on the visor). Superstructure and deck house doors and their locking devices, etc. including visors in a ship's superstructure's sides is the responsibility of the maritime administration (Estonia) as per the International Load Line Convention 1966.


The Finnish Maritime Administration was, according to a national decree, exempt from doing hull surveys of vessels holding valid class certificates issued by authorised classification societies.

This Finding is irrelevant. The FNMA was not concerned with the ESTONIA 1994. And the visor was not attached to the hull, it was attached to the superstructure and an important part of the Load Line (not Hull) surveys done by the FNMA.


The visor locking devices were not examined by the Finnish Maritime Administration, nor by Bureau Veritas.

Another irrelevant Finding. The visor locking devices were the responsiblity of the Estonian National Maritime Administration, ENMA - see 27. But when the ship was under Finnish flag, evidently the FNMA should have checked the locks.


The visor design load and the assumed load distribution on the attachments did not take realistic wave impact loads into account.

Not proven in the Final report and misleading. It would appear that the design load used by the yard/classification society (a head of water times the total horizontal area of the visor) >535 tons far exceeded any real buoyancy and impact loads to be encountered in service.
The wave impact loads in the Final report are based on
manipulated model tests and simulations. The JAIC furthermore never presented any calculations how wave impact loads would have been transmitted to the ship's superstructure by the 'attachments'.



The visor locking devices installed were not manufactured in accordance with the design intentions.

Not proven in the Final report and misleading. It would appear that the locking devices could withstand the design load/intentions as it worked well during 14 years in service. The JAIC never investigated if the Atlantic lock were damaged before the accident and out of order (which would appear to have been the case!).



No safety margin was incorporated in the total load carrying capacity of the visor attachement system.

Not proven in the Final report and misleading - see 30 - and if it were the case, the Estonian NMA was responsible.


The attachment system as installed was able to withstand a resultant wave force only slightly above the design load used.

Not proven in the Final report and misleading. The Final report does not even present a calculation how either a wave buoyancy or a wave impact load on the visor is transmitted to the superstructure via the 'attachment system', the latter which is not even defined.


Wave impact loads generated on the night of the accident exceeded the combined strength of the visor attachments.

Not proven in the Final report and misleading - see 30 and 33. It would appear that wave impact loads in a sea state Beaufort 7 with 4 m significant wave height (thus not even a storm) would be insignificant (and that the model tests and simulations had to manipulated to show something else -see 36).


Wave impact loads on the visor increased very quickly with increasing significant wave height, while forward speed had a smaller effect on the loads.

Not proven in the Final report and misleading - see 30 and 33. The model tests and the simulations are false. It is of course a scandal that a recognized ship model test institute (SSPA Marin AB, Gothenburg, Sweden) produces a false model test report, but it remains a fact. The model tests cannot be re-done by any other independent institution!



The SOLAS requirements for an upper extension of the collision bulkhead were not satisfied.

Irrelevant as the ship did not collide (except with waves). Evidently the existing bow ramp in the superstructure would have acted as the upper extension of the existing collision bulkhead fitted in the hull in a real collision with another ship or object.



The general maintenance standard of the visor was satisfactory.
Existing minor maintenance deficiencies were not significant factors in the accident.

Not proven - only based on statements of un-named witnesses.
Information to the effect that the visor did not fit and could not be locked due to wear and tear or previous contacts has not been investigated.




The time available for evacuation was very short, between 10 and 20 minutes.

Strange Finding.
If the ship started to list slowly at 0115 hrs as stated by the JAIC and the list was 40° at 0125 hrs due to >2 000 tons of water in the superstructure, the time to evacuate must have been less than 10 minutes, as it is impossible to walk on a ship's deck with list >18°. But if the loss of stability and sudden heeling >30° took place at about 0102 hrs and if the ship later was stable for a fairly long time at 15° list, then there was time for many persons to evacuate until 0122 hrs. The suggestion that approximately 300 people reached the open deck means that the JAIC development of the list cannot have taken place as stated.


The lifesaving equipment in many cases did not function as intended. Lifeboats could not be lowered.

This Finding is a scandal. The lifesaving equipment was not as per recognized (SOLAS) rules. Most of the passengers were assumed only to jump into the water and try to swim ashore or to a life raft that somebody was supposed to throw into the water!



Of the approximately 300 people who reached the open deck, some 160 succeded in climbing into liferafts, and a few climbed onto capsized lifeboats. Helicopters rescued 104 people, and vessels rescued 34.

Another scandalous Finding. 99% of the survivors had to jump into the water to get off the sinking ship to survive in the first place - extremely few climbed into any life raft and none onto a capsized lifeboat. How do you climb onto a capsized lifeboat from a sinking and listing ship?
Actually there was no realistic evacuation plan at all! In any event a majority of persons aboard had to jump into the sea to survive!


As can be seen from above table the JAIC makes a big issue that wave impact loads on the Estonia fore ship/visor attached to the superstructure in a sea state with 4 m significant wave height (not even a storm) far exceeded what would have been expected and that the actual attachment system could not withstand the resultant wave force.

Falsified Model Tests

Actually it is quite simple to demonstrate that the alleged wave impact loads on the visor, gained from Swedish model tests and Finnish simulations done by the JAIC, are falsified (increased) by a factor of at least five! The model tests ordered by the JAIC and carried out by Messrs. SSPA Marin AB model test basin, Gothenburg, Sweden, are falsified and cannot be re-done by any other model test basin! Nor can the simulations be re-done by any scientist! Just by visual inspection of a similar ship in the same sea state B7 and waves 4.2 meters confirms that the visor is hardly submerged, when pitching into the waves and that wave impacts on the visor high above the waterline are very rare (seldom heard) and of small magnitude and does not even lift the visor from its attachments! There is no way that waves of 4.2 m significant height could have knocked off the visor of the ESTONIA in September 1994! This is the central lie of the whole cover-up! But in more severe weather B9 and waves 6 meters it is another story! If the ferry bow then hits a wave it is heard like a big BANG all over the ship and you must slow down.

19 years of patriotic Lies

But how could the JAIC get away with its report of lies? It is extremely simple! The Swedish government appointed three Swedish investigators that were told to blame the accident on the visor (that story was ready beforehand for obscure reasons not developed here) in a totally secret and illegal investigation and not on the real cause - hull leakage (which would have been much simpler). It was easy to put social pressure on the investigators - an affirmative patriotic culture adapted to the political power - so that they started to lie of patriotic reasons to protect what they thought were Swedish interests. They were patriotic liers, and it was the same patriotism that silenced them (and killed one of them) when they were faced with their lies. Not one investigtor was later able to explain/prove any essential Finding in the Final report. But other patriotic liers were prepared to stand up and support the lying investigators and the large Swedish public was generally happy. Consensus is part of the Swedish mind and media, because Sweden is a small country with few alternatives. Either you support the outrageous lies of the leaders or you are destroyed unless you can leave the country and defend the truth elsewhere. It is evidently simpler to join the lying majority than to tell the Truth alone. The Board of Psychological Defence assists of course to cover up official lies in Sweden. Finland and Estonia are the same; even smaller countries with the same narrow minds as Sweden and even fewer alternatives and they were very happy or forced to play along. The whole manipulation was carried out by a dedicated few people. As basic stability calculations confirmed that the whole official sequence of events was false, all JAIC stability calculations had to be falsified. When that failed, admiral Rosenius had to step in to produce a falsified water filling study 2003.

Pictures of Damages caused by Explosives

In order to support the visor story Sweden (read the Swedish Navy) had to remove the visor from the wreck under water the first week after the accident using explosives. The explosive damages seen on underwater films, e.g. the big hole in the starboard side of the superstructure bow ramp frame (officially undamaged according to the JAIC), are caused by these actions after the accident! Quite a story that probably will be told one day! But first the patriotic liers of Sweden, Finland and Estonia and their Final report must be taken to pieces by the legal Court at Paris. September 2013 the Paris Court had done nothing. And maybe the whole thing will be legally stopped October, 2013. Morally it will never be stopped.


Anders Björkman, M.Sc.,

Heiwa Co, European Agency for Safety at Sea