The depth of the entire length of the Rukki Channel connecting the island of Hiiumaa to the Estonian mainland exceeds five meters, according to initial data gathered in a survey conducted by the Estonian Maritime Administration (VTA) on Thursday, meaning that the channel is safe for ferry traffic.
Following a joint survey by Meremõõdukeskus and the VTA, a new nautical chart for the Rukki Channel should be completed by Friday night.
As Thursday's survey was the first of the season, the VTA's vessel Kaja ran into technical difficulties with its sonar, however Meremõõdukeskus' vessel Lenne was also in Rohuküla Harbour at the time, having begun its survey somewhat earlier than the Kaja, ERR's Allan Rajavee reported.
Daily Õhtuleht reported on Wednesday that OÜ Meremõõdukeskus, a local company specializing in maritime surveying, had determined over the weekend that the shipping channel's depth was in fact sufficient for passeger ferry traffic at the required five meters.
Meremõõdukeskus director Peeter Ude admitted to the paper that they hadn't measured the depth throughout the entire shipping channel, but rather at one of the most critical points, where the depth according to the VTA is 4.7 meters; Meremõõdukeskus measured the actual depth there to be five meters.
"The fact that Meremõõdukeskus on their own initiative surveyed there is moreso intellectually interesting, but unfortunately neither seafarers nor the captains of the Tiiu and Leiger nor Hiiumaa islanders can do anything with this information other than hope that the VTA's instruments produce the same measurements," VTA adviser Priit Põiklik told ERR on Wednesday. "In that case, of course, this would be great news."
Ferry traffic between the Western Estonian island of Hiiumaa and the mainland was interrupted on multiple occasions over the past winter due to low sea levels. Information on sea levels was sourced from the Marine Systems Institute at Tallinn University of Technology (TTÜ).
Editor: Aili Vahtla