Estonian master's thesis on ferry sinking in spotlight in Sweden

The MS Estonia.
The MS Estonia. Source: ERR

Due to an upcoming study by the Swedish Accident Investigation Authority, a master's thesis defended at the Estonian Maritime Academy, one whose author, Tauri Roosipuu, criticizes the lack of expertise in the public discussion on the sinking of passenger ferry Estonia, has suddenly found itself in the spotlight in Sweden.

Sweden's largest daily, Dagens Nyheter, published an article in its science section of a study planned by the Accident Investigation Authority at the MS Estonia wreck. In short, it is planned to bring representatives of the relatives on board the research vessel. However, Jonathan Lindstrom, a journalist who lost his parents in the shipwreck, is protesting against the way these representatives are being selected, using the recent Estonian master's thesis as the argument.

The purpose of the underwater survey is, according to the Swedish Accident Investigation Authority, to prepare for the investigation of holes found in the wreck, and the trip will take place on July 8-18. According to Lindstrom, the choice of representatives has been entrusted to Lennart Berglund, chairman of the management board of the next-of-kin association Stiftelsen Estoniaoffren och Anhoriga (SEA). He protests that the SEA, whose representatives have threatened next-of-kin with different views, is now trying to independently represent all the relatives of the victims. Lindstrom emphasized that while he respects the work of the Swedish Accident Investigation Authority and its balance, he would like to point out that the SEA is far from representing all the relatives of the victims.

For years, Berglund has strongly advocated finding out the "truth" and has repeatedly questioned the final report of an international investigation committee into the shipwreck. In Estonia, he did so in a complaint filed with the Tallinn Administrative Court in 2019. This was also expressed by Berglund in a documentary series screened in the fall, in which the audience was shown a hole in the wreck.

Lindstrom highlighted a master's thesis defended at the Estonian Maritime Academy in early June, which confirms that the holes found are unlikely to have had an impact on the course of the sinking. The author of the master's thesis, Tauri Roosipuu, has thoroughly studied and systematized research on the sinking of MS Estonia and has clearly indicated that all previous research has reached the same conclusions. However, the holes found by the filmmakers do not refute much of the existing knowledge about the shipwreck.

In his master's thesis, Roosipuu also explained how there was no explosion on board the ferry and what evidence rules it out.

Lindstrom said he hopes that eventually, all the relatives of the victims will find support from the new research. He emphasized his strong desire for all journalists and the general public to understand - previous research is broadly correct.

"Unfortunately, it must be acknowledged that practically the entire public debate related to the sinking of MS Estonia is based on the same small amount of information, a significant part of which is based on rumors or false allegations," Roosipuu himself said. "At the same time, a large amount of scientific and expert knowledge has been left out of the public discussion; figuratively, this situation could be compared with, for example, the debate on the doctrine of evolution today, but as if it were essentially based only on pre-Darwinian knowledge."

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Editor: Roberta Vaino

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