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Raise the M/S Estonia!


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Some wild thoughts how to remove the MV 'Estonia' from the sea

If you can lift the Russian submarine 'Kursk' at >100 metres depth in the Arctic Ocean, it should be possible to lift the MV 'Estonia' that sank quickly 28 September 1994 in the Baltic. Why the vessel sank 1994 ... nobody knows! The official investigation was simply a cover-up of the Truth described here.

The wreck is today lying at 80 m depth with about 120° list on the sea floor as shown below - figure 1. Its weight is about 12.000 tons, 3.900 tons less, if you allow for the buoyancy of structure and equipment. The centre of gravity G is somewhere above the car deck and a little aft of L/2.

This means that you cannot fill the watertight hull compartments below the car deck no. 2 with air at 8 bar and expect the vessel to float up, as the car deck itself has several openings, where the air leaks out. Only if the vessel was lying completely upside down - 180° list - you could in principle fill the spaces below car deck with air and expect the vessel to float up upside down assuming the hull is intact as alleged by the Commission.

The underwater hull is expected to be intact - some openings have been cut in the side of deck 1 - and you could close the watertight doors, to obtain several compartments with sides and bottom tight, and then re-float the ship upside down. But - the wreck must then be resting with the bottom up, which is not the case.

A feasible solution would be to open the forward and aft ramps on the superstructure of the wreck and pull out the 38 lorries and all small cars and truck - about 1.000 tons and put them on the sea bed.

The heaviest objects are 50 tons and the others are lighter, so you should be able to pull out all objects by a tug.

The cars and trucks are of course resting against each other and the starboard (lower) side and the deck 4 underside, but the writer sees no major difficulties to pull out these objects from the superstructure garage space without damaging the starboard (lower) hull side.

Actually only the port (upper) side and the starboard inside casing side need to be intact to raise the wreck with below mentioned method.

When the car deck is free from all objects, the wreck weighs less than 11.000 tons and you have a nice, free space on the car deck - and the port side and the starboard side inside casing in this space are intact.

The idea would then be to pull in four reinforced rubber pontoons in the car deck space and fill them with air at 8 bar. These very big pontoons are today available, and sometimes used for transporting oil (at less pressure), but special rubber pontoons must be manufactured to raise the 'Estonia'.

Each pontoon should be about 145 m long with a diameter of 5.5 m (to fit into the car deck space) and should provide, say 3 300 tons of buoyancy each when inflated at 8 bar, as seen in figure 2. If such big, strong 8 bar (!) rubber pontoons exist is doubtful of course. Maybe smaller ones can be used?

The four pontoons provide >11 000 tons lifting force and the Estonia should thus float up to the surface more or less in the inclined position as found on the bottom (as the lifting force is in balance with the weight G). Naturally - you need some extra floaters to balance the wreck longitudinally (to be established by detailed calculations). By varying the buoyancy forces in the four pontoons you may later adjust the list of the ship - actually tip it upside with most of the deck house above water! Actually it should be possible, after the Estonia has reached sea level, to turn the wreck upright by adjusting the buoyancy (amount of air) in the lift pontoons. The floating wreck is then towed to shallow waters and put on the bottom again. The deck house - above water - can then be emptied of dead bodies (most of the victims are assumed to be in the deck house) - and later the wreck can be raised to the surface using conventional means.

The situation when the Estonia is resting on the bottom is shown right - figure 3. Thus all bodies in the deck house can be removed from the ship when the deck house is above water. With the Estonia on the bottom as shown in figure 3 it is then easy to lift her with conventional pontoons, pump out the spaces below the car deck and refloat her. It would be an interesting salvage or removal and many professional salvage/removal companies would probably compete to get the contract. Thus the wreck could be removed from the bottom at a very competetive cost.

It is of course also possible, and probably easier, to lift the'Estonia' straight up from the bottom with floating pontoons on the surface after having installed lifting wires below the wreck. However, this work would include digging tunnels below the wreck to get the wires in place at 80 meters depth.

Evidently lifting of the wreck will not cost SEK 1 500 millions as suggested by the government. SEK 50-100 millions is a more realistic figure. Just ask the salvage/removal companies.