“Estonia” sinking: new investigation into the wreckage begins

"Estonia" sinking: new investigation into the wreckage begins

Status: 07/08/2021 10:48 AM.

To this day there is speculation as to why the yacht “Estonia” sank in September 1994. Until recently, diving was prohibited. After the change in the law, now experts can find new facts.

Carsten Schmeister, ARD Studio Stockholm,
currently in hamburg

Dramatic emergency call from the bridge of “Estonia” at night during a heavy storm off the southern coast of Finland on September 28, 1994 – the last sign of life from the clock. The yacht enlisted, capsized, and sank quickly. 852 passengers and crew drowned, only 137 survived. The special thing is that the bow hatch had burst and in a short time a lot of water had entered the ship.

a lot of research and a lot of theories

There were investigations and procedures, but in the end there were just too many theories: it was a design flaw, the front hatch was too weak, perhaps it was poorly maintained. Also in discussion were: sabotage, illegal military transport on board, spies, a hole in the hull.

Last autumn there were the first TV photos – taken by an underwater robot that was lowered into the wreck despite a diving ban: about four meters high and 1.20 meters wide at the widest point, partially broken. Made of broken metal. Experts believe that this may have happened when the ship hit the bottom or before the collision.

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“Everything points to a battleship”

Lars ngström is a former member of the Reichstag in Sweden. He quickly questioned the “bow flap theory”: “Calculations suggest that the hole may have been caused by something larger with a weight of 1,000 to 3,000 tons and a travel of one and a half to four nautical miles. So it was not a container.” Whose weight does not exceed 30 tons. It must have been a ship. A civilian ship would have no reason to keep it a secret, so everything points to a warship.”

There are also rumors of a submarine. “Estonia” is a burial site, until recently a general diving ban was in effect. But now Sweden, Finland and Estonia have changed the relevant laws, paving the way for a new official wreck investigation. It is starting today.

First without diver and without robot

Jonas Backstrand is the head of the Swedish Average Commission and is happy that it is starting: “I think you will have to check the new information that there are holes on the starboard side, to see how and why they came. So that assessment Instead of speculation, come out on the basis of facts.”

However, the start of the campaign, which is estimated to cost around €5.5 million, is quite unpredictable. It starts with no diver and no robot. You want to get a first impression of the area and the location of the debris. Both are likely to change since the sinking.

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“We will now use different methods, such as echo sounders and sonar, to document conditions on the ship and on the ocean floor,” Backstrand explains. “Then in the spring we will use special cameras to get more accurate images.”

Hundreds of individual shots for the complete picture

This is exactly what experts are lacking: an overall picture of the wreck, its location and its exact damage. And this is difficult in the Baltic Sea with generally poor visibility. To do this, the computer must combine hundreds of different images.

But it will take time. The preliminary exam alone is planned by autumn. Concrete results should be available at the earliest in the coming year. Still, it is not certain that the Estonia mystery will be solved. After all, you’re looking for facts, it says on average commission, and not a criminal.

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