Estonia shipwreck investigator and nautical linguist Captain Uno Laur dies

Captain Uno Laur.
Captain Uno Laur. Source: Captain Uno Laur Maritime Cultural Foundation.

Noted nautical linguist and former head of the Estonia shipwreck commission Captain Uno Laur died on Monday. Capt. Laur was 90.

Capt. Laur spent over four decades helping to develop the Estonian navy and accompanying naval terminology, which necessitated two major works ''A Lexicon of the Sea'' ( ''Mereleksikon'') and an Estonian-English dictionary of nautical terms ("Inglise-eesti meresõnaraamat"), drafted under his auspices. He also oversaw the establishment of a maritime cultural foundation, which supports and contributes to the continuity of Estonian maritime activities.

After the MS Estonia passenger ferry sank in 1994, then-President Lennart Meri appointed Capt. Laur to head up the disaster investigation committee, in 1996.

The MS Estonia sank in the early hours of Wednesday, 28 September 1994 in ''normally bad'' stormy weather, not far off the Turku archipelago, en route between Tallinn and Stockholm, Sweden. 852 lives were lost, making the disaster the second deadliest peacetime sinking of a European ship, after the Titanic. The disaster's 20th anniversary was commemorated on Friday, 28 September, with wreath-laying at the central Tallinn memorial.

President Meri decorated Capt. Laur with the Order of the National Coat of Arms Class III in 1999, and in 2016 he received the F. J. Wiedemann Language Award for his work in protecting the Estonian language and developing Estonian maritime terminology.

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Editor: Andrew Whyte

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