Authorities are investigating an incident last December which forced the MS Megastar ro-ro ferry to turn back to port shortly after departing Tallinn, following engine failure.
While it is not clear yet what caused the failure, the Estonian Safety Investigation Bureau (OJK) has launched an investigation.
OJK head Rene Arikas said: "The purpose of initiating a safety investigation is to find out what happened. The main reason is that due to the failure, the vessel's sole engine stopped."
"The ship lost control, had to weigh anchor and then be brought back to harbor with the help of tugboats. Passengers and cargo were on board at the same time. Under the law, this constitutes a serious incident," Arikas continued.
The ongoing investigation does not bar the Megastar from plying its regular routes, Arikas said, while ascertaining the cause of the incident will help prevent future, similar events from taking place, he said.
On December 17 last year, the Megastar, en route to Helsinki, was forced to turn back to harbor, due to the technical failure. The vessel had to be replaced by other ships while it was being repaired.
The OJK has carried out a preliminary assessment and launched an investigation into the incident, while the deadline for same is one year from the incident – the OJK says it hopes to complete the report sooner than that.
The incident is distinct from another, from November 2021, in which the Tallink cruise vessel the MS Baltic Queen had to turn back to port, due to engine failure.
Tõll incident also under investigation
Similarly, an incident last summer involving the Tõll, a vessel operated by state-owned firm Port of Tallinn (Tallinna Sadam) subsidiary TS Laevad is still pending an OJK investigation.
The vessel collided with the quay at Kuivastu, Muhu, on July 21 last year, while carrying a complement of passengers, their vehicles and also freight, and hit the headlines also since of of the passengers was then-president Kersti Kaljulaid, whose car was damaged as a result.
Arikas said of this incident that: "The Tõll also lost control when she started mooring procedures at the quay. There was a breakdown, and there were operational problems, while passengers and cargo were on board. It was an accident of the same type."
"Some pieces of information are still missing, and if we receive them, we hope to complete the Tõll's safety investigation in the near future. It is too early to say what happened. When the report is ready, we can talk more about it," he went on.
The investigation was not opened immediately after the event, but has been subsequently, not least to find any parallels between it and December's Megastar incident, and also with any other incidents which may have involved large vessels in the past.
The Tõll was out of commission for over two weeks while undergoing repairs and checks, and TS Laevad had to reorganize the remaining ferries to keep services both to Saaremaa and Hiiumaa in action.
Editor: Andrew Whyte