Estonia dive survey conclusion: Nothing found to refute official narrative

MS Estonia's bow ramp arrives in Paldiski on July 25, 2023.
MS Estonia's bow ramp arrives in Paldiski on July 25, 2023. Source: Ken Mürk/ERR

An investigation at the wreck-site of the MS Estonia ferry which concluded Tuesday has not found any evidence that would contradict the official version of events surrounding the 1994 sinking, ETV show 'Aktuaalne kaamera' (AK) reports.

For instance, one theory that an explosion was behind the disaster, which claimed 852 lives, has been debunked, so far as the latest survey has unveiled, head of the Estonian Safety Investigation Bureau (OJK) Märt Ots told AK in a short interview which follows in its entirety.

AK interviewer Priit Kuusk: Is it your belief that you will now get definitive answers, sufficient to convince even the most committed of conspiracy theorists?

Märt Ots: I really hope so, since this investigation was a success. And if we go back in time, the current research started in 2020 after the discovery of a major breach in the Estonia's starboard side, meaning this hole had to be thoroughly investigated. We obtained a metal cutout from the ruputure, and we even managed to pilot a dive robot inside the wreck of the Estonia, to examine thoroughly all these places from the outside and inside; to film.  My desire is that we can at least get a definite answer on that now. And since we have other physical evidence too, I really hope that we can provide definitive answers about the tragedy.

Kuusk: The final report is still under preparation, but can something concrete be said even now - for example, in order to rule out the involvement of UFOs, or submarines?

Ots: Insofar as the current investigation goes, I can say that we have found no evidence that would falsify the official report. We found no traces of explosives at the site, for example. This is perhaps very clearly proven by the fact that when we were able to enter the car deck from the outside, to see through this hole, for example, where the hold is situated, how the vehicles are positioned, what the other circumstances are, we didn't observe any traces of explosives there, nor did we see that any other object had entered at that oint.  So in this regard, I think that with this new knowledge, I can't add anything further.

Märt Ots. Source: Ken Mürk/ERR

When will your final report be ready and, presumably, confirm the official theory on the sinking?

We want to carry out the final report thoroughly and rather take a little more time than by rushing it. We plan to carry out a digital modeling of the vessel next year, to calculate accurately and digitally how the ship sank. I think this should give provide some highly accurate answers, using today's computing tech.

But not before next year then?

I hope we will have this digital model ready within the next year. And the final report, I would venture to pledge, will not be ready before the end of next year, ie. not before 2025.

The raising of the bow ramp on Tuesday certainly brings great emotional significance for many. What should be done with it?

I would donated it to the Maritime Museum (Meremuuseum). Of course, this is a matter for the government, as the Maritime Museum is a state-funded institution. It all depends on what they want to do with the ramp (a critical part of the vessel's failure and the resulting compromise of buoyancy on that night in September 1994-ed.).

If you want my own private point of view then yes, 30 years have passed, but this accident is still too soon and too sad an event for many people, which means I would not recommend setting it up as a museum exhibit right now.

The final report from the original, official MS Estonian disaster investigation committee stated that the ship sank due to design flaws: The bow visor (which is housed in a museum in Sweden-ed.) fasteners were too weak and sheared off due to the impact of large waves in stormy seas; the vehicle ramp was connected to this visor.

The recently-concluded investigation was headed by the OJK and its Swedish equivalent, the SHK, under the auspices of Finnish authorities and contracted by Norwegian private-sector firm. It made use of dive robots and other tech not available in 1994.

The bow ramp was raised Tuesday and taken to Paldiski.


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Editor: Andrew Whyte, Merili Nael

Source: 'Aktuaalne kaamera', interviewer Priit Kuusk.

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