MS Estonia shipwreck final report could be ready early 2024

Rene Arikas, head of the Estonian safety investigation watchdog.
Rene Arikas, head of the Estonian safety investigation watchdog. Source: Rene Suurkaev/OJK

The final report on the investigation into the causes of the sinking of the passenger ferry MS Estonia could be ready early next year according to Rene Arikas, head of the Estonian Safety Investigation Bureau (OJK).

"If you consider the amount of investigations and analyses, which are still to be carried out, then the final report could be ready in early 2024," Arikas told the Riigikogu's State Budget Control Select Committee on Monday.

According to Arikas, it would be beneficial to begin conducting underwater surveys as soon as possible, because in winter, when the water is cold, there is better visibility. He therefore stressed the need to complete the surveys before April 20.

Arikas went on to explain, that the plan is to carry out a survey at the wreckage site using a ferromagnetic sonar, before entering the ship's car deck using an underwater robot to examine the situation there.

According to Arikas, the documents for the procurement of the ferromagnetic sonar survey have already been prepared and, once the funding arrangements have been decided and agreed upon, the project will be able to proceed quickly.

However, he also admitted that the marine surveys are not especially time-critical, as nothing is likely to happen to a wreck, which has been sat on the seabed for 28 years. In his view, it is much more important at this stage to conduct interviews with the survivors of the disaster.

Arikas said, that Sweden has given its initial agreement to fund the necessary research. This means, that even if Estonia is unable to make a decision quickly, the initial funding should nevertheless be secured.

Arikas has headed the Estonian Safety Investigation Bureau (OJK) for the past two years and co-chaired the drafting of the interim preliminary assessment report along with members of the Finnish and Swedish safety investigation authorities, which was published last week.

Arikas has previously accused the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Communications of interfering with the independence of the center and of inconsistencies when it comes to the funding of the investigation into the MS Estonia disaster.

Arikas is due to step down from his role as head of the center and will be replaced by Märt Ots on February 1.


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Editor: Michael Cole

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