Safety at Sea Ltd, Glasgow & Co & professor Dracos Vassalos faked a Report about lost Stability and Sinking

review by Anders Björkman


About us


Contact info


Order books


Technical Summary of the Investigation on the Sinking Sequence of MV Estonia (Note: You cannot copy text from this document)


Safety at Sea Ltd, 280 St Vincent Street, Glasgow, G2 5RL, UK

Date 21 May 2008

Safety at Sea Ltd, 280 St Vincent Street, Glasgow, G2 5RL, UK has on 17 November 2009 asked Heiwa Co to remove this web page/article from the web site within 15 days. Check Up-dates for more info. Heiwa Co has, of course, refused the suggestion.

Written by: Andrzej Jasionowski, Dracos Vassalos, Piotr Dolebski, Jerzy Prigara, Luis Guarin, Anthony York, Tolasz Grzes, Przemek Zagorski, Clemens Strasser

Checked by: Dracos Vassalos

Approved by: Dracos Vassalos



The sinking mechanisms established were: (1) sudden heel due to loss of stability (floodwater on deck and free surface effects), (2) floating at side (side windows withstanding substantial hydrodynamic load) and flooding of lower compartments through centre casing, (3) complete capsize (loss of stability), (4) trim aft (centre of floodwater aft of CG) and sinking (loss of floatability).

lack of … forward collision bulkhead is considered as the main reason of the eventual loss


Review of the Safety at Sea Ltd Paper by Heiwa Co (17 December 2008)

On 17 March 2005, the Swedish minister Mona Sahlin, responsible for MV Estonia matters, announced in Parliament:

'We must proceed to do a major study of the actual sinking. How did the Estonia sink and why did she sink so fast? That experience may provide still more knowledge to improve safety at sea both in today's and tomorrow's shipping. Latest 1 February next year it shall be informed to the Government office what or which research institute or consortium that has been given this task'.

The report by Safety at Sea Ltd is more than three years later one result of this announcement and another scandal in the ongoing Estonia accident investigation done by Vinnova, Stockholm.

The Vassalos report was published a few days before the final Vinnova presentation of the whole project 23 May at Stockholm, which was chaired by Mr. Tom Allan, a director of Safety at Sea Ltd. the report is a follow up of WP2.1 "Review of Evidence and Forming of Loss Hypothesis" dated 10 October 2006 reviewed >>>.

The authors suggest that the main reason of the catastrophe is lack of a collision bulkhead extension. According official sources 1997 the cause of accident was incorrectly designed visor locks that could not be found by due diligence. Nobody was really to blame for anything including the mysterious sinking.

The authors suggest four events that then produced the sinking. There is no evidence for any of the four events!


Event 1. Sudden heel due to loss of stability (floodwater on deck and free surface effects) : 01.00 - 01.03 hrs

The first event takes a few minutes starting at 01.00 hrs and not 01.15 hrs according the official report. The M/S Estonia hull is intact. Only the bow door of the superstructure is open, like Herald of Free Enterprise.

More than 2 000 tons/minute water are loaded on the car deck (no. 2 deck of the superstructure) and the angle of heel becomes >45° within two, three minutes. No survivors from the accident have reported such a dramatic event. Nobody heard the enormous noise associated with loading or pushing in 2 000 tons/minute of water into a superstructure full with cars and trucks! Nobody has said that the vessel suddenly heeled 45°. The principal witness Sillaste told, e.g., a completely different story.

After the first heeling you could walk on the deck and escape during 10 minutes! It was not possible with Herald of Free Enterprise that had 90° heel after four minutes?

According most survivors there were some bangs and later the ship suddenly rolled >30° around 01.02 hrs and then became stable with a heel <15° for about 10 minutes allowing >300 persons to evacuate to open decks. A fair number of survivors had noted water on deck no. 1 in the hull below the superstructure prior the sudden rolling. The engine crew reported water to the knees on the tanktop (deck no. 0) in the engine room and noted that the bow ramp was closed three minutes after the rolling and when heel was <15°.

It should be clear that 2 000 tons/minute water loaded on the car deck could not have produced the heeling. 2 000 tons/minute? It is a lot! It would have destroyed all trucks, cars and the lighting system like a big tsunami. How the authors led by prof. Vassalos can suggest that the ferry heeled >45° in two, three minutes is a mystery. No survivor supports that.

There is no evidence for this event! Actually, it never took place!

25 minutes later (sic!) the ferry's 3/0 Tammes sent Mayday! No mention about a sudden 45° list 25 minutes earlier!

In below figure the heel angle developments according Safety at Sea Ltd/Vinnova 2008 and the official theory 1997 (JAIC fig. 13.3) are shown. Note the time of the Mayday.

Event 2. Floating on the side at >40° heel (thin deck house side window panes withstanding substantial hydrodynamic load) and flooding of lower compartments through centre casing : 01.03-01.23 hrs

The second event between 01.03 and 01.23 hrs is also not possible - M/S Estonia floating on its deck house. How could a listing or heeling ferry float on a deck house?

The M/S Herald of Free Enterprise that capsized outside Zeebrügge 6 March 1987 never floated on its deck house:

"When the ferry (HFS) reached 18.9 knots (35.0 km/h; 21.7 mph) 90 seconds after leaving the harbour, water began to enter the car deck in large quantities. The resulting free surface effect destroyed her stability. In a matter of seconds, the ship (HFS) began to list 30 degrees to port. The ship (HFS) briefly righted herself before listing to port once more, this time capsizing. The entire event took place within 90 seconds.[8] The water quickly reached the ship's electrical systems, destroying both main and emergency power and leaving the ship in darkness. The ship (HFS) ended on her side half-submerged in shallow water 1 kilometre (0.54 nmi; 0.62 mi) from the shore. Only a fortuitous turn to starboard in her last moments, and then capsizing onto a sandbar, prevented the ship from sinking entirely in much deeper water, which would have resulted in an even higher death toll."

Vassalos & Co seem not to know about Herald of Free Enterprise and suggest that only two side windows per deck break on M/S Estonia and that flooding of the deck house is small! According official sources 1997 all windows in the deck house were broken when submerged. Based on experience a ship cannot float on windows in a deck house. It is not clear how the authors can suggest the opposite. Safety at Sea Ltd maintains that the thin windows can resist 10 meters water head! Actually, just the thin steel wall itself will be severly deformed at 1 meter water head and the window frame will also deform and the window pane break! At once.

In the latest simulations it takes 22 minutes to flood the deck house as the windows do not break and the flimsy doors aft remain closed. According official sources 1997 the deck house was flooded completely immediately as it became submerged.

There is no evidence for this second event! No ship has ever floated on intact glass windows of a deck house!

Flooding of lower compartments through central casing at this time is also not possible as it is above the water level at this time.

What you would expect to happen at 01.03 hrs is simply that the vessel capsizes and floats upside down - heel 180°. The authors suggest that capsize is prevented by side windows not breaking but it is not possible.

How can serious engineers suggest that a ship floats on its deck house? (Answer - the engineers in question are criminals bribed or well paid to produce false results).


Event 3. Complete capsize (loss of stability) and floating upside down : 01.24-01.30 hrs

The third event takes place between 01.24 and 01.30 hrs when the angle of heel of the ship with intact hull increases rapidly from 90 - 180°. After that the vessel floats upside down and cannot sink as the hull is intact. This event is also not possible as it takes place exactly when the Mayday is sent! And in the Mayday message it is said (01.25 hrs) that the angle of heel is only 20-30°! Later in the Mayday the position of the vessel is reported. After the Mayday (01.30 hrs) survivors suggest that the officer sending the Mayday is seen leaving the bridge. The authors completely ignore the Mayday message in the report!

There is no evidence that the vessel capsized at 01.24 hrs!

The authors suggest further that two survivors climb down on the closed bow ramp when angle of heel is 93°. It is evidently not possible. The picture is pure propaganda. A ship cannot float as shown! It will capsize at once! Does anyone believe that 3/0 Tammes is sending Mayday from the port bridge wing (left upper corner in below picture), when people are climbing down the ramp? And that 300+ people are walking on the flat, port upper side? In SSPA model tests the ship is rolling violently in this strange (impossible) condition!

At some instant two Estonian survivors managed to climb down the closed ramp, using its stiffening arrangement and abandon the ship. Angle of heel 93°. (Source - Vinnova/SSPA/Safety at Sea/Glasgow, May 2008)

If the ramp had been open, you would expect the following to happen - I quote from chapter 3.11 of Disaster Investigation:

"If the visor had pulled open the ramp, then the ramp should have hit the fore peak deck with 1.8 MNm energy. The visor should then first have remained hanging on the ramp top, when the ramp was open - the visor was pushed aft by the water, waves and the forward motion of the ship. If the ramp actually fell down on the forepeak deck, the ramp plate grid should have been bent downward, all ramp hinges should have been broken, the ramp side guard rails might have been damaged and should have been bent outwards 3.10, the 'preventer' wires120 and the ramp hydraulics should have been pulled out and it would later have been impossible to close the ramp 1.8. The starboard ripped apart ramp hydraulics should have hanged out and should later have blocked the closing of the ramp, when the list was >90 degrees. The ramp should have folded itself around the fore peak structure. The forepeak deck 2 should have been smashed (but it is undamaged). Then you would expect the visor to slip off the ramp causing more damages to visor housing, etc. But none is seen."

Conclusion - if any survivors climbed down a closed ramp as shown in the figure, the ramp could never have been open before that! The Safety at Sea report actually confirms that the accident could not have been caused by an open ramp!


Event 4. Floating upside down, trim on stern (centre of floodwater aft of CG) and, finally, mysteriously sinking (loss of floatability - air slowly compressed in the hull) : 01.30-01.52 hrs

At 01.30 hrs the ship with intact hull floats upside down and the final, mysterious event starts - the sinking.

When the ship floats upside down, it floats on buoyancy provided by trapped, compressed air inside the intact hull and buoyancy provided by the superstructure and deck house now submerged. The latter buoyancy is of the order 3 906 m3!

The authors Vassalos & Co suggest that the vessel first starts to trim on the stern, but it is not possible. No water can penetrate into or be shifted to the aft end of the hull in a floating condition upside down. The paper presents some strange explanations that water flows up (?) into the aft end compartments but cannot explain where the compressed air goes. There are no detailed calculations of available buoyancy after capsize. According Archimedes the capsized vessel should simply float ... for days!

Likewise, the sinking - loss of floatability - cannot be explained at all! It is suggested by Vassalos & Co that the buoyancy disappears.

The ship weighs at this time 11 930 tons. It floats on about 3 906 m3 of solid material in the submerged superstructure and deckhouse and 8 023 m3 of compressed air and solid material inside the hull. About 5 607 m3 of water has entered the hull compressing the air there. At least 3.191 m3 of hull is above waterline; 1-2 meters of the hull is thus above waterline as seen in the picture above.

The vessel floats upside down!

In order for the vessel to sink the 3 191 m3 of 'reserve buoyancy' above waterline must disappear. The authors do not explain how 3.191 m3 of compressed air is replaced by sea water for the vessel to sink. Heiwa Co has of course contacted the authors to clarify matters and received the following reply on 16 December 2008 from the author Andrzej Jasionowski:

"Hi Anders,

All details are enclosed in the report, "Technical Summary …", a simple calculator will suffice to cross-check every number necessary. If needed, numerical model can also be made available to third, forth and fifth parties, no problem, (as suggested long ago). Please spend some time on analysing and thinking about what has been presented, stick to basic Archimedes, try to avoid speculations, and I am sure you will be able to dissolve your confusion on the matter. It is really simple naval architecture, undergraduate students could do it.

With best regards


Actually, no details or numbers are available in the report about the floating condition at 01.30 hrs and why/how it will change in the next 20 minutes! As seen in below (simple) figures produced with a calculator the MV Estonia, prior capsize, floats on/displaces 11 930 m3 buoyancy in the hull (10 666 m3 air, 1 264 m3 solids, permeability 0.894) with 6 886 m3 volume above waterline but below the watertight main deck (6156 m3 air and 730 m3 solids, permeability 0.894) reserve buoyancy. Total hull volume is 18.816 m3. Above main deck in the superstructure and deck house are another 3 906 m3 of solids. Upside down, after capsize, MV Estonia floats with 3 191 m3 of hull above waterline. About 5 012 m3 of water is now inside the hull compressing the air there at 1.5 bar. The vessel displacement is still 11 930 m3: 8 024 m3 compresssed air/solids in the hull + 3 906 m3 solids in the superstructure/deck house. No air can escape from the hull in this condition, so the vessel cannot sink. In model scale 1/40 the model evidently floats higher after capsize, as the air pressure inside the model hull is less (1.05 bar). But neither ship nor model can sink after capsize! Archimedes looks after that! Any undergraduate student using a calculator can conclude that a capsized, floating ship cannot sink.


Dr. Dracos Vassalos has refused to assist in explaining the alleged loss of buoyancy between 01.30 and 01.52 hrs. Vassalos is not interested to dissolve the confussion he is causing. And he lectures stability at the University of Strathclyde. Poor undergraduates.

Strangely enough the Safety at Sea Ltd 's partner SSPA, Gothenburg, part of Chalmers University, makes exactly the same unexplained error, when calculating buoyancy after capsize.

There is no evidence for this last event! Actually, it cannot take place. MV Estonia cannot sink after capsize.


Ferry floating after capsize - it cannot sink!


The Safety at Sea Ltd report Technical Summary of the Investigation on the Sinking Sequence of MV Estonia written by Andrzej Jasionowski, Dracos Vassalos, Piotr Dolebski, Jerzy Prigara, Luis Guarin, Anthony York, Tolasz Grzes, Przemek Zagorski, Clemens Strasser is a scandal. It does not contribute anything to clarify the sinking of MV Estonia on 28 September 1994.

It in fact produces more lies about the accident than previously and invents a completely new story;

1. sudden 45° heel due to 2 000 tons/min water loaded on the car deck (?) ... and nobody heard it or felt it,

2. vessel floating on deck house windows (??) ... that has never happened before,

3. survivors climbing down/up a closed ramp (???) when the ship is heeling 90° for less than a minute, and, worst of all,

4. that a capsized, floating ship slowly sinks, when compressed air escapes from an intact hull (?).

Where does the air escape?

You wonder how an allegedly reputable company like Safety at Sea Ltd with director Tom Allan can produce such fantasies? What are they trying to achieve?

It is really sad when a university professor like Vassalos and naval architects and Tom Allan prostitute themselves in this way and produce nonsense reports. They could, lazily, have just walked away from the project but instead Dr. Vassalos, Mr. Jasionowski and Tom Allan apparently decided to join the Swedish conspiracy and cover up (paid for by the government) and produce more disinformation. We are living in a strange world.

On 1 October 2008 the Swedish minister Sten Tolgfors, responsible for MV Estonia matters, announced in the Parliament:

From the studies presented by the consortia SSPA Sweden AB and HSVA (Hamburgische Schiffbau-Versuchsanstalt GmbH) on 5 May 2008, can be seen that the sequence of sinking in all essential ways follows the scenario presented in the report of the Joint Accident Investigation Commission (JAIC). The consortia have had the possibility to enlarge the analysis of a number of points compared to what JAIC did. The consortia conclude, i.a., that the sequence of sinking started earlier than concluded in the report of JAIC. The cause of the sinking of the M/S Estonia is not questioned in the studies of the consortia and they therefore confirm the conclusions of JAIC.

Mr Tolgfors must have misunderstood the report of SSPA/Safety at Sea Ltd.

Anders Björkman (17 December 2008)

2012/2013 Dracos Vassalos & Safety at Sea Ltd was asked to explain the M/S Concordia sinking 2012 and produced another false report.


Heiwa Co announces a Competition for undergraduate students of naval architecture (but anybody can join). Explain how MV Estonia sinks after capsize based on details in the Safety at Sea Ltd report! Further hints to do so you find at 1.9, 2.16 and 2.17. Send answers to:


The Heiwa Co Estonia Sinking Scenario (developed 2000-2003)

Safety at Sea Ltd correctly concludes in its report that the MV Estonia could not list more than 20° due to leakage below waterline and flooding of compartments below deck no. 2 only. But Safety at Sea Ltd does not consider what happens later, while sinking.

Thus let's assume Estonia is leaking below waterline (starting at 00.50 hrs and never investigated by competent authorities) and floods several compartments on deck 0 (the tank top). GM becomes <0 and the Estonia rolls severely (noted by survivors) at 01.02 hrs and then finds a new stable equilibrium at <15° heel (noted by survivors) at 01.03 hrs, when more water flows in on deck no. 0. See 2.17 for details. Safety at Sea Ltd confirms these data in its report and suggests that the heel cannot increase >20° unless the car deck, deck no. 2, is flooded. This is correct. The crew was apparently trying to stop the leakage until abt. 01.15 hrs as bilge pumps were started. The bridge was probably informed since 00.50 hrs about the leakage. No Mayday is sent! 300 people have time between 01.05 - 01.15 hrs to evacuate to open decks! Heel is <15°!

But the vessel is sinking due to the leakage - the draft increases - and survivors observe the ship is trimming on the stern. The leakage is apparently aft. After a while, while sinking losing buoyancy at a rapid rate, deck 2 aft comes below water and - the car deck is flooded via the aft ramp that is not closed properly (it is seen open on the wreck)! See 2.26 for details. And now the heel can become >20° as observed by survivors. The time is say 01.20 hrs. So water flows in on deck no. 2 via the partly open aft ramp. Heel quickly becomes 30° also observed by survivors. Mayday is finally sent at 01.24-01.30 hrs. Now it goes quick. When heel is >40°, the deck house is flooded. At 01.30 hrs heel is 60° degrees at 01.31 it is 90° and at 01.35 the ship sinks. No capsize. People jump into the water as the vessel didn't have correct Life Saving Equipment. The biggest disaster in the Baltic since 1945 was under way! At 01.57 hrs MV Mariella arrives as first assisting ship to the position of the wreck. Mariella observed Estonia immobile in the water until sinking.

Heiwa Co has advised Safety at Sea Ltd this scenario several times 2000-2007. It is strange that it is not considered in the report. Is Safety at Sea Ltd no really interested in safety at sea? Why make up fairy tales about 2 000 tons/minute of water being forced into the superstructure from forward like a big tsunami. That nobody heard? That nobody saw? That nobody felt? Why can Safety at Sea Ltd not explain how a floating ship loses buoyancy? Why produce low quality 'research' papers? Why support corrupt governments? Money? Of course.