A research group funded by the families of the victims of the Estonia ferry disaster started an expedition to the wreck site on Saturday.
The research group SA Mare Liberum set off from the port of Eemshaven in the Netherlands and the journey from the port to the place of the wreck in the Baltic Sea will take two days.
"We have been preparing for the expedition for three months now and we remain optimistic. Our goal is to map all the damage suffered by the vessel, photograph and scan instances of such damage, as well as investigate the car deck and the surroundings of the wreck site," said Margus Kurm, the head of the SA Mare Liberum and the research project.
The dive to the wreck site will last approximately 10 days. A total of 46 people will take part in the expedition, including 18 ship crew members and six media representatives.
Kurm has identified seven questions that the organizers want to get answers to during the expedition and subsequent analysis.
Materials gathered in the course of the investigation project will be analyzed by dr. Andrzej Jasionowski, who has previous experience with the disaster. In 2005-2008 he was a member of a scientific consortium that conducted studies for the Swedish government.
Scientific analysis should be ready by next spring.
SA Mare Liberum will also interview survivors. Additionally, a 3D model of the bow visor of Estonia has been created which gives the possibility to study the damage from a distance.
The research project is funded from donations and the sale of media rights. The biggest supporter from Estonia is Postimees Grupp which among others owns such media channels as Postimees, Kanal 2, BNS and Radio Kuku.
MS Estonia ferry disaster
The Estonia ferry sank on the night of September 28, 1994, while sailing from Tallinn to Stockholm.
The sinking is the largest maritime disaster in peacetime in the Baltic Sea, killing 852 people from 17 countries, and the second-largest peacetime maritime disaster, so far as European vessels go, since the Titanic.
The shipwreck was investigated by a joint committee formed by the governments of Estonia, Finland and Sweden between 1994 and 1997 and by a government commission headed by the Public Prosecutor's Office in 2005-2009.
In 1995, Estonia, Finland and Sweden signed an agreement to protect the shipwreck, which prohibits diving to the wreck.
The disaster is commemorated by the "Broken Line" monument in central Tallinn, which replicates the vessel's bow. One arm of the monument points towards Sweden, the other towards Finland, the two nations, along with Estonia, who lost the most people.
Editor: Helen Wright