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Welcome to a chapter of the e-book Disaster Investigation.

Appendix 7

Extract from questioning of the N&T superintendent Ulf Hobro 941117 (tape/act D6c)

On 17 November 1994 the N&T superintendent Ulf Hobro (UH) was questioned by Swedish members of the Commission (Rosengren, Forssberg, Schager, Sten Anderson, etc.). The questioning was done in Swedish. Below follows selected questions (F) and the replies of Hobro:

About the Safety Systems on board the 'Estonia'


UH. We started to plan how to get the 'Estonia' running (during the autumn 1992) ... first we put on board an engineer and a deck officer ... Swedes ... eight to ten weeks before the take-over. ... Then we started to look at adapting ... the safety system with safety plans and similar to suit the new trade ... translations and re-workings of manuals and alarm lists, adapting them to the new ... they were doing that. We also sent over a number of Estonians ...

F. Was the project clear ... ?

UH. We (i.e. N&T) should start it ...

UH. Then the ship went to Turku/Åbo for delivery docking (January 1993). At that time the (the new Estonian) crew came on board and then training and exercises were started ... and then were used the new alarm lists and the safety plan and training manuals and such ... what was ready. ...

UH. I contacted the (Swedish) NMA to supervise, before the ship started trading, a two.ninety ('två.nittio') - '2.90' test. We agreed that it should be done at Tallinn. Four persons from the (Swedish) NMA (Sjöfartsverket) came over.

F. Who attended from your company?

UH. Me, Tomas Rasmusson, Anders Andersson.

Practical Reasons to do Swedish Tests at Tallinn

F. What was the reason to do the exercise at Tallinn?

UH. Only practical.159

F. It was before she started trading?

UH. Yes.

F. The Estonians (i.e. representatives from the Estonian partners of the N&T or the Estonian NMA) were not participating?

UH. No - they were represented by the Bureau Veritas ... Anders Wirstam.

F. Safety plans and manuals ... ?

The Translations not checked

UH. They were translated by the Estonian masters with assistance of the mates, etc. ...We had no possibility to check the translations ... 160

F. Tell us about the '2.90' exercise (in January 1993 at Tallinn)?

A complete Abandon Ship Exercise was done

UH. It went well. ... They exercised fire, escape and the abandonment of the ship ... a complete exercise. ... (Swedish) NMA was there. ... The crew had trained all for two-three weeks. ... I had told them what was expected.

F. Did you know what would happen if the tests failed?

UH. Yes - no permit to trade. ...

F. Were you responsible for the safety?

UH. Yes - assisted by Tomas Rasmusson and Anders Andersson ... the latter made all safety plans, etc. They were later translated into Estonian. ...

F. You had trained the crew for two weeks?

UH. Yes. ...

Ulf Hobro responsible for the Safety

F. You were responsible for the safety?

UH. Yes. ...

F. No conflict between safety and operations budget?

UH. No. ... The ship became better and better all the time.

F. You participated at the exercises - fire, etc.? ...

UH. I participated at the RITS-exercise

F. Escape, damage control ...?

UH. Yes, they were done.

No Damage Control Plan available Ashore

F. The Damage Control plan - have you got a copy of it?161

UH. ... (No).

Not aware of the Ramp Condition

F. Were you aware that the ramp didn't lock, if the ship was listing (in port)? ... that it could not be locked? ... that the hooks did not fit?

UH. I was not aware of it.

F. Have you heard about any problems with the ramp or the visor?

UH. No.


F. How often did you have problems with the ship?

UH. Big or small?

F. Big!

UH. Rarely. ...

F. Did you weld on board? There is a statement that the ramp had to be opened by help of burning/cutting on the trip before the accident.

UH. Have not heard about it. No.

F. You (i.e. N&T) were only going to be responsible for technical and safety operations a short while. But then it was extended?162

UH. Yes. ... first one year, then it was prolonged until the accident occurred.


159 It is very strange that all Swedish test were done abroad - the tests should have been done at Stockholm. The abandon ship test took, e.g. only 17 minutes at Tallinn (footnote 78 1.34) and could of course have been done at Stockholm. What practical reasons were suggested to do the tests abroad is not known.

160 There are no safety documents of any sort in the Estonian language in the Final report (5) and its Supplements.

161 No questions were put about intact and damage stability or loading manuals in Estonian 2.17.

162 No questions were put about the modifications in dry-dock in January 1994 2.23.

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