Head of the original investigation committee into the 1994 sinking of the MS Estonia ferry has rejected theories that the disaster was caused by submarine strike.
Talking to daily Postimees (link in Estonian) Andi Meister, an Estonian engineer who headed up the first Swedish-Estonian investigation committee shortly after the incident until 1996, said that the first diving expeditions to the wreck revealed no holes in the hull, either the result of a submarine hitting the ship or for any other reason, which could have caused the vessel to sink.
"This would be the case time in world history where one vessel struck another and the officers on the bridge did not realize that they had been struck from the side. If this type of breach had occurred it would have been known at the time of the sinking. How come the crew did not feel the collision happening? The officers on the bridge? Nobody mentioned any collision at the time, in a nutshell," Meister said, noting that while strike by another vessel causing the disaster was possible, the evidence was not compelling.
The 26th anniversary of the ferry's sinking saw a TV documentary aired on Swedish public broadcasting which showed footage of what looked like a large hole in the hull of the wreck, lying in about 100 meters of water south of Finland's Turku archipelago.
Margus Kurm, who led a subsequent Estonian government-initiated committee in the mid-2000s, claimed that the hole had been caused by a Swedish submarine striking the hull below the waterline.
The Swedish Navy (Svenska marinen) currently has two, non-nuclear and relatively small submarines in service; both were in service in the mid-1990s and have undergone modernization since then.
The documentary's maker, resident in Oslo, Norway, may face a prison sentence in his native Sweden after being charged with desecrating the ferry's resting place during the making of the movie in summer 2019.
The official cause of the disaster is a sheared-off bow visor which became detached in rough seas while the ferry was traveling at speed, allowing water to penetrate vehicle decks and rapidly compromise the ship's stability.
137 people survived the sinking, the largest in European waters during peacetime and the second-largest peacetime maritime disaster involving a European vessel, after the Titanic.
Editor: Andrew Whyte