Documentary: Swedish Sub Sank MS Estonia

  • The ferry "Estonia" is the only vessel in the world protected by the law on the rest of the dead.
  • Diving for the remains is prohibited.
  • New documentary provided new evidence.

On Monday, the former head of  the commission tasked with the investigation of the MS Estonia ferry sinking in the Baltic Sea, Margus Kurm, made a statement that he believes a collision with a Swedish submarine could have been fatal for the ferry. According to Kurm, there is damage on the right side of the Estonia ferry.

MS Estonia was a cruise ferry built in 1979/80 at the German shipyard Meyer Werft in Papenburg. The ship’s 1994 sinking, in the Baltic Sea between Sweden, Åland, Finland and Estonia, was one of the worst maritime disasters of the 20th century.

The damage is 4 meters long and 1.2 meters wide. The damage is located below the waterline, but extends above the waterline, that is, to the car deck.

“This suggests that Estonia has encountered something large enough to break through the hull,” Kurm said in the Otse Postimehest program. “In order to break through the side, it would require, for example, a smaller fishing boat to crash into the hull of a ferry at a speed of four knots.”

Estonia, Finland, and Sweden will discuss new information about the sinking of the MS Estonia, if important circumstances of the tragedy become known, which were not previously reported. This is stated in a statement released on September 28 by the Foreign Ministers of the three countries.

This statement was made in response to new information about the ferry crash contained in the Discovery Network’s five-part documentary. The series will show, in particular, new footage of the wreckage of the ferry, which shows damage from the steering wheel.

“The film contains footage taken in September last year, capturing previously unnoticed damage to the right side of the ferry. In my opinion, this is quite important information, the truth of which we must first establish, and then find answers to all possible questions that will arise in this regard,” Estonian Prime Minister Juri Ratas said earlier.

As previously reported by the Estonian newspaper Postimees, the documentary tells that when diving to the ship’s hull, a robot diver found a four-meter hole in the ship’s hull, which was previously partially hidden by the sea floor.

The discovery brings to the fore the theory that on September 28, 1994, the sinking of the MS Estonia was caused not only by a failed locking device of the nose visor, but also by a hole in the hull that accelerated the crash. Earlier, the authorities of the countries that took part in the investigation of the disaster, denied these claims.

The five-part documentary series “Estonia: a Discovery that Changes Everything,” was produced by a production company commissioned by Norwegian Discovery, and directed By Henrik Evertsson.

The Estonia ferry sank on the night of September 28, 1994 on its way from Tallinn to Stockholm. There were 989 people on Board. Only 138 people were saved, one of whom later died in hospital. There were 852 people killed and missing, and only 94 bodies were found.

The disaster is the shipwreck with the highest number of victims in the Baltic Sea in peacetime. The depth at the site of the ferry sinking is 83 meters. The MS Estonia is the only vessel in the world protected by the law on the rest of the dead. Diving to the remains of the ferry is prohibited.

According to the report of the Estonian-Finnish-Swedish Intergovernmental Commission to investigate the causes of the disaster, the ferry sank due to imperfections in the design, increased speed of the ship and stormy weather.

The Estonia Agreement 1995, a treaty among Sweden, Finland, Estonia, Latvia, Poland, Denmark, Russia and the United Kingdom, declared sanctity over the site, prohibiting their citizens from even approaching the wreck.

At the same time, the sinking of the ferry raised many questions and gave rise to various theories in the first days after the shipwreck.

There were versions about a collision with a submarine, about the transportation of weapons onboard, an explosion onboard the ship, an attempt to drown a truck allegedly onboard with secret cargo inherited from the Russian armed forces that left Estonia, and so on.

Many people were also perplexed by the hastily-concluded agreement between Estonia, Finland, and Sweden prohibiting any diving and research in the area of the ferry’s sinking, and calling for the closure of fragments of the ship with sand or concrete (which was not fulfilled).

Recently, relatives of the victims have repeatedly raised the issue in government and judicial instances about the need for additional investigation of the causes of the sinking of the ferry, and the need for new dives to the remains of the ship. However, all their demands were rejected.

This documentary is very important and the producer did a phenomenal job by bringing the attention to the tragedy from the past.

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Christina Kitova

I spent most of my professional life in finance, insurance risk management litigation.

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