Daily Õhtuleht wrote on Wednesday that according to the measurements of OÜ Meremõõdukeskus, a local company specializing in maritime measuring, the depth of the Rukki shipping channel between the Estonian mainland and the island of Hiiumaa would have sufficed for ferry traffic even at the time water levels were very low.
According to the company, the depth of the channel on the ferry route from Ruhküla on the mainland to Heltermaa on Hiiumaa is 5 meters, which is enough for the ferry service to the island to continue even when the water level is very low.
The implication here is that while ferry operations were interrupted and reorganized on several occasions earlier this year, in actual fact the water would have been deep enough and the changes made to the schedule unnecessary.
The company has forwarded its measurements to the Estonian Maritime Administration (VTA) as well, though the latter so far hasn't published them.
As VTA advisor Priit Põiklik explained to ERR on Tuesday, they don't have data for all of the shipping channel, which means that "it wouldn't currently be reasonable to comment" what the minimal necessary depth of the Rukki channel would have to be.
The managing director of Meremõõdukeskus, Peeter Ude, explained to Õhtuleht that the equipment they use for their measurements is state-of-the-art. "I can't tell you today that the depth is really exactly 5.0 [meters]. Could be it's 4.9, or 5.1. But our equipment is aligned with the Amsterdam Ordnance Datum, and it's among the most up-to-date in Estonia, so a big measurement error isn't possible," Ude said.
Ude added that they didn't measure the depth across all of the shipping channel, but one of the most critical points, where the depth according to VTA is no more than 4.7 meters. Meremõõdukeskus found that the channel is actually 5 meters deep at that specific point.
VTA is planning to conduct measurements of its own as soon as the sea ice allows it. Dredging works in the channel could be taken up in August this year.
Editor: Dario Cavegn