Lies and Truths about the M/V Estonia Accident
Chapter 7


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Chapter 7. References

(1) Press Release, Foreign Ministry of Estonia, October 10, 1994, 17.00 hrs.

(2) Press Release, Foreign Ministry of Estonia, October 10, 1994, 17.30 hrs.

(3) Notes by 'Gg' at Polishuset, Åbo, September 29, 1994.

(4) Second Interim Report of the Commission, Tallinn, October 17, 1994.

(5) Press Release by the Commission (un-signed), Stockholm, December 15, 1994.

(6) Letter from Swedish Accident Investigation Board, SHK, to Royal Institute of Technology, Stockholm, dated December 19, 1994.

(7) Letter to Swedish Accident investigation Board, SHK, from VTT, Finland, dated November 29, 1994.

(8) Stern Magazine, Germany, 18/1996.

(9) Part Report of the Commission, Stockholm, April 1995.

(10) Jörle/Hellberg, 'Katastrofkurs' ISBN 91- 27-05715-1.

(11) The German Group of Experts report. Hamburg 19.11.97

(12) Sänktes M/S Estonia? av Henning Witte, , Stockholm 20.11.97

(13) Final Report Estonia, Edita ltd, Helsinki, Finland 3.12.97

(14) Simulation of the capsize - Floating condition and stability. Internal report by Dr. Michael Huss, Stockholm 1997 for the Swedish Accident Investigation Board (SHK).

(15) Technical Report Valc177 by T. Karppinen, Helsinki 1997 for the JAIC.


Appendix - Observations of figure 10.5 of the part report, April 1995, and a description how the visor separated from the 'Estonia'

Figure 10.5 of the part report (9) refers. The figure has been turned upside down for simpler understanding (as the JAIC published the picture upside down) and is shown below. It shows the Atlantic lock visor lug from port. The observer is where the hydraulic cylinder of the locking bolt was situated on the fore peak deck below the ramp. The undamaged visor lug was previously connected to the intact lower horizontal web of the visor.

The damaged lug is bent 15-20° to starboard and is twisted say 5-8° around itself - lower part to port, upper part to starboard. The starboard face flat on the horizontal lowermost web is buckled - to aft at the lug and forward further to starboard, i.e. the starboard web plate itself is buckled, but is still welded to the lug. The port face flat on the web is fractured in the welding to the lug (and the lug is pushed down (or the web plate up) ca 10-15 mm). The port web plate has also fractured (you can see the opening on the photo above behind the port face flat) and the lug itself is probably fractured where it is welded to the web plate. The web plate is also fractured at a distance beside on the port side and forward of the lug.

The damages can be explained by an impact load from starboard (when 'Estonia' hits the wave surface at >34° list). The lug is pushed against the bolt housing on port side and the lug is bent to starboard, and the starboard web plate and face flat are buckled, and the port web plate and face flat are fractured. The visor rotates against the ship, when the other connections are ripped apart, which explains the other damages on the lug and its connection to the web. It should be clear that the damages are not a result of a tensile force pulling the visor out from the hull as proposed by the JAIC one day before finding the visor 1.7. Then the lug eye would have pulled open (the weakest part of the whole lock assembly). The JAIC suggested already 4 October 1994 that the lock had been pulled open (as the fore peak deck assembly on the wreck appeared damaged - the above damages on the visor itself were not even known or analysed until the visor was salvaged mid-November 1994. The drawings of the lock assembly were not availble for study by the JAIC in October 1994.

Addendum 7 July 2000.

Another picture of the bent lug is fig. 14 from Supplement no. 511 of the Final Report (13) shown below:

It is clear that the lug is still welded to the buckled starboard side face flat of the bottom web plate, which is also buckled. Supplement no. 511 notes that: "The aft end of the lug is bent to starboard and the surrounding base plating of the visor has fractured on port and has buckled at starboard. This suggests that a fairly high starboard facing load in the bottom part of the visor has acted sometimes and apparently during the accident. Such a situation could have developed if a clockwise twisting rotation around the ships longitudinal axis of the visor occurred due to lifting action at the port side. Contact marks in the bottom locating horn recess on starboard suggests that the lower portion of the visor has been forced to port at some stage of the sequence of events. The resulting and remaining total sideways displacement of the aft end of the lug is on the order of 10 cm."

The Final Report (13) does of course not explain this finding in Supplement no. 511. This writer agrees in principle that 'a fairly high starboard facing load in the bottom part has acted ... during (sic!) the accident'. But was it during the accident? And where did this load come from? The writer of the Supplement (Rahka) thinks that the load has 'developed if a clockwise rotation around the ships longitudinal axis of the visor occurred due to lifting action at the port side'. This can evidently not be correct: 'lifting action' at the port side, when the bottom lock is still intact with the bolt attached and when the side locks and the upper deck hinges are also intact, will be transmitted to the hull via the locks and the rotation is prevented by the locating horns.

The writer of Supplement no. 511 (Klaus Rahka) believes that the total deformation of the visor bottom lug took place in two phases. Phase 1 - the lug was stretched out by a pulling force, when the fore peak assembly was still intact, and Phase 2 - the lug was bent 'when the bending action by the locking bolt occurred after the fore peak deck side of the lock had broken'. This is not convincing either - if the fore peak assembly is broken in Phase 1, there is nothing against which the lug can bend because the locking bolt is not held by the fore peak assembly. But the writer of Supplement insists: "The bending (of the lug) has apparently occurred so that the locking bolt has been supported by the starboard bow end corner of the eye hole and the stern end port side corner has been pushed aft and to starboard by the bolt, the port end of the bolt having been held back by the hydraulic piston rod. This deformation can be produced with a comparatively low force ...". This confusing explanation cannot be correct.

Actually the locking bolt was connected to the hydraulic piston rod by another bolted connection which cannot transmit any bending moment - the connection was flexible.

The riddle would be easy to resolve if the bottom locking bolt itself is available but it was thrown away. It was reportedly undamaged and not worn a all, so it could hardly have crushed the lug eye hole edges (corners).

And - it was not only the lug that was bent to starboard - the lug connection ('the surrounding base') to the lower web was both fractured (port side) and bent/buckled (starboard side) and this cannot possibly have been done by the 'locking bolt having been held back by the hydraulic piston rod'. To bend the 60 mm thick lug flat bar is of course quite easy, but to buckle the starboard web plate and face flat and to fracture the port web plate and face flat requires much more energy. Where did this force (energy) from starboard side come from?

Interestingly enough the German Final report issued in June 2000 suggests that the visor was 'attached' to the ship when it sank on the stern and listing to starboard >90° The upper deck hinges were apparently broken before then and the visor was held back by the lifting hydraulics which in turn were held back by the deck beam at fr. 159 (which apparently was not cut through). When a starboard facing load then acted (upwards!) on the visor bending the bottom lug and buckled and fractured the base is not clear to this writer (unless it was an impact load when the visor side was parallell to the water surface, but then the speed of the ship was small and high impacts on the visor were unlikely).

Maybe the bottom lug had been bent before the accident, e.g. by the ferry/visor colliding with a jetty, and the fore peak assembly was ripped off then? Then the lug was bent and its connection to the web was buckled and fractured. Then it was of course not possible to use the bottom lock at all, but you did not really need it at sea. The visor was held in place by the side locks and the deck hinges.

It is interesting to note that the Final report (13) does not prove that the bottom lock was undamaged before the accident and does not describe its condition before the accident. It is only assumed that the condition was good and that the lock was undamaged. But the Germans show convincingly that the visor condition was bad and that the visor had been dislocated to starboard and forward - nothing fitted. There are thus still many mysteries to resolve about the 'Estonia'. Maybe the mystery is very simple - the visor bottom lock was in fact damaged and un-usable before the accident (due to a minor collision with something which had pushed the visor to starboard) and the bottom lock could not be engaged at sea. The visor then fell off by itself when the ship sank.

Addendum 9 September 2000

When the Royal Institute of Technology (Stockholm) investigated the damaged visor lock parts - particularly the welding of the bolt housing to the lugs - it said (Supplement no. 517 of the Final Report): "The general impression of the fracture surfaces was that they were more heavily corroded than those on the lock lugs. This lead to the initial thought thats that this crack might have been present before the shipwreck. However ... it seems inconceivable that such a crack could have passed unobserved when a significant part of the housing insert weld must in that case also have been failed".

The Commission naturally never investigated the lock condition prior to the accident. It assumed that the lock was OK. But if the lock was damaged and fractured prior to the accident, and if nothing was done about it in spite of being observed, it explains clearly why some parts were more corroded than others.

Legal disclaimer - even if this book was written in 1997 the writer states today that the purpose of the book and other information on this website collected 1997-2000 is not to cause or permit any other person to do any of the activities mentioned in para 3.(1)(a), (b) and (c) of the United Kingdom 1999 No. 856 MERCHANT SHIPPING The Protection of Wrecks (M/S Estonia) Order 1999 as quoted below:

Made 17th March 1999

Laid before Parliament 26th March 1999

Coming into force 12th May 1999

The Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions, in exercise of the powers conferred by section 24(1) and (2) of the Merchant Shipping and Maritime Security Act 1997[1], and of all other powers enabling him in that behalf, hereby makes the following Order:

1. - (1) This Order may be cited as the Protection of Wrecks (M/S Estonia) Order 1999. (2) This Order shall come into force on 12th May 1999.

2. For the purposes of this Order "the protected area" means the area delineated by geodesics joining in sequence the following points -

59° 23.500'N, 21° 40.000'E;

59° 23.500'N, 21° 42.000'E;

59° 22.500'N, 21° 42.000'E;

59° 22.500'N, 21° 40.000'E[2].

3. - (1) A person shall not do any of the following, or cause or permit any other person to do any of the following, in the protected area:

(a) tamper with, damage or remove any part of a vessel lying wrecked on or in the sea bed, or any object or body in or formerly contained in such vessel;

(b) carry out diving or salvage operations directed to the exploration of any wreck or to removing any object or body from it or from the sea bed; or

(c) use equipment constructed or adapted for any purpose of diving or salvage operations.

(2) Any contravention of paragraph (1) above shall be an offence punishable on summary conviction by a fine not exceeding the statutory maximum or on conviction on indictment by a fine.

Signed by authority of the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions.

Glenda Jackson

Parliamentary Under-Secretary of StateDepartment of the Environment, Transport and the Regions

17th March 1999



(This note is not part of the Order)

This Order makes provision for the purpose of giving effect to the Agreement between the Republic of Estonia, the Republic of Finland and the Kingdom of Sweden regarding the M/S Estonia (Cm 4252). The date of the United Kingdom's accession to the Agreement will be published in the London, Edinburgh and Belfast Gazettes.

The Agreement designates the wreck of the M/S Estonia and surrounding area as the final place of rest for the victims of the disaster. United Kingdom accession to the Agreement is subject to a reservation to article 4(2) which requires that disturbance of the final place of rest be punishable by imprisonment under national law. Accordingly the offences created by this Order (which are subject to section 24(3) of the Merchant Shipping and Maritime Security Act 1997) are punishable by fine.

(A hardcopy of this book has been sent to Ms Glenda Jackson 1998 - No reply of course).

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