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'The apparent fact that the ramp had been fully open for some period of time, allowing water ingress at a very high rate, complicates the probable time schedule'
Commission record of meeting (act A81a*) of 15 December 1994 - paragraph 4
1.17 The third false Cause of Accident 15 December 1994. Ramp open during the Accident
The Commission only met officially for the third time at Stockholm on 15 December 1994. The Commission then confirmed in paragraph 3 of its Press Release (13) that the strength of the locking devices, associated with the bow visor in combination with wave loads on the visor during the severe weather and the course of the ship at the time, is the main cause of the accident.
Evidently the strength of the locking devices had not been examined and investigated at that time. The alleged cause of the accident was simply an invention of the Commission.
As the public had suspected that the speed of the ship had been too high in the severe weather, which should have contributed to the accident and that you also should put blame on the crew, the Commission added the following in paragraph 4 of the Press Release (13)
4. The Commission noted that the influence of the speed of the vessel on the loads on the visor is still under investigation. It was noted that studies made by research laboratories (SSPA and VVT) did not show any signs that the movements and accelerations of the ship had exceeded normally expected values at voyages in severe weather.
No studies by the SSPA and the VVT about ship movements at different speeds in severe weather dated 1994 exist in the Final Report (5) or its Supplements. It was much later that model tests were done Appendix 2, where very big impact loads in the vertical/up and longitudinal/aft directions were recorded every minute, which should have stopped the ship. There are no particular comments about movements and accelerations in the SSPA report (because they were very severe and you would have expected the ship to slow down).
The Ramp was locked
Paragraph 5 of the Press Release (13) is very interesting
5. Dive examinations of the wreck have revealed (established) that the inner ramp was locked in the closed position before the accident. After the loss of the visor the ramp has been in a considerably more open position than the present position on the wreck, at least during a part of the development of the accident.
It is not clear how the Commission could have concluded the above - locked ramp? The official dive reports in the Supplement to the Final report (5) do not support the allegations - there is no mention of the ramp locks. And how could the divers in December 1994 have established that the ramp had been locked nine weeks earlier? The divers did not officially inspect the bow ramps inner/upper side, where the locks were located 1.16 (v) and (xi), but compare with 3.10 and 4.2.
Note that the Commission already on 17 October had stated that the visor had dislodged the ramp from its locks 1.11-3 (thus the ramp must have been locked! Why would the divers (sic) confirm this?) and that the Commission already then stated that the ramp had been locked beforehand, i.e. the locks (pins and pockets) and hooks should have been damaged/ripped apart. But there is no evidence for that. An intelligent accident investigator would then ask the divers to confirm and document that the locks had been ripped apart. But it was never done.
Today we know that the ramp was probably closed, but not locked (it was secured by ropes at departure), when the divers inspected 3.10 and that the divers tried to open the ramp after having cut some hole somewhere, so that they could get into the car deck. The Germans 3.13 suggest that the ramp could not be locked due to twisting, but that the ramp was secured by a rope fixed to bits on the upper, open deck 4 and around the top of the ramp. In spite of the fact that you can see on the video films that the divers were inside the car deck and also behind the ramp, the Commission officially stated in the Final Report that the divers did not inspect the inside of the car deck or the ramp. Thus the confusing statement that dive examination had confirmed a locked ramp.
The Ramp was open
It is also not known how the Commission managed to conclude that
'the ramp has been in a considerably more open position than the present position on the wreck, at least during a part of the development of the accident'.50
The statement is very strange. The present position was that the ramp was stuck in its frame as iit had been pushed and deformed in the aft direction at mid-height, so that the top part was bent a little forward, causing a small opening at the top.
According to the Interim Report no. 2 1.12-4 in October 1994 we were led to believe that the part open position of the bow ramp only had enabled a little water to enter the car deck, but now it was suggested that the ramp later had been considerably more open than the present position found by the divers, so that 1 000 tons of water came quickly into the car deck (then the ramp must have been fully open!), so that the 'Estonia' heeled 15 degrees during several minutes 2.19. Later, when the ferry was still floating or had sunk, we do not know what
'at least during a part of the development of the accident'
means, the Commission suggested that the ramp closed itself to a part open/closed position - and less water flowed in. But still the ship sank! Why?
Considerable Amounts of Water in the Superstructure
In the Press Release (13) paragraph 6 the Commission therefore protected itself with
6. The detailed time sequence of the course of events has still not been clarified, but considerable amounts of water flowed into the car deck (the superstructure) between 01.15 and 01.30 hrs (Estonian time). The ship sank due to the (crew and passenger) space being filled with water and it disappeared from radar screens at 01.48 hrs. The clock on the radio station on the bridge stopped at 23.35 UTC (01.35 hrs Estonian time).
Naturally the Commission was forced to state that 'considerable amounts' of water had flowed into the superstructure and on the car deck between 01.15 - 01.30 hrs 1.9 to cause a sudden listing (they forgot that the ship should have capsized and floated upside down), even if there was no evidence for it, but already when the Press Release was made the Commission had apparent difficulties - agony - to explain the relationship between alleged water on the car deck in the superstructure and the angle of heel -
"The detailed time sequence of the course of events (that) has still not been clarified ".
It has in fact never been clarified! Why? Because the whole idea of a wide open ramp is not true.
The Commission never managed to establish the detailed time sequence of events in spite of dr. Huss' attempts 1.9 to reconstruct a course of events with a wide open ramp. That the ship would have capsized immediately with an open bow - as you would have expected - could evidently not be stated. So a false time sequence had to be invented!
Dr. Huss thought that the 'considerable amounts' of water filling the car deck of the superstructure were total only 1 500 tons between 01.14 and 01.33 hrs - during 19 minutes with a wide open ramp - followed by capsize, while the Commission suggested that it was 2 000 tons filling the car deck between 01.14 and 01.24 hrs - during 10 minutes with wide open ramp, another 2.000 tons to 01.27 hrs - during 3 minutes! with wide open ramp - thus total 4 000 tons during 13 minutes - and total 6 000 tons on the car deck at 01.33 hrs - four times more than suggested by Huss - and another 14 000 tons in the deck house (not considered by Huss) also at 01.33 hrs and - no capsize!? At this time the Commission suggests that the 'sinking' (sic) begins (and that the ramp closes?) - the watertight underwater hull (!) is suddenly flooded - which does not end until another 15 minutes later (sic) - and during that time the ship moved/drifted about 1 000 meters, while the total weight of the ship increased 2-3 times due to inflow of water. Fantasy - all of it! Because the visor never fell off the ship - it was attached to the ship all the way to the bottom, and must later be blown off using explosives and pulled off to support the false allegations.
How did the 'Estonia' sink?
Evidently the Commission avoided carefully to explaining how and why the 'Estonia' actually sank - and when the sinking began. How were the 14 watertight hull compartments below the car deck and the superstructure filled with water? That evident question was never answered.
The statement "The ship sank due to the (crew and passenger) space being filled with water..." is intentionally misleading, because these hull spaces could not be filled with water, when the superstructure was already full of water causing capsize.
The Ramp was closed
According to the testimony of AB seaman Linde (8) 1.8 to the whole Commission the ramp was closed at 01.30 hrs (sic), when Linde in a raft in the water (together with Kadak and Sillaste!) saw the bow above the water with a closed ramp, when the ship sank stern first. Linde is quite sure - the ramp was closed above water before the ship sank.
How could the ramp move, if it was held in place by two hooks, four side locks and two hydraulic cylinders? The reader should know that the ramp was not locked but just pulled in place by ropes.
The Final Report (chapter 8.6.5 in (5)) gives a very short answer. The two upper hooks, pulling the ramp tight, are said to have slipped off their pins, even if no evidence is presented. It is not said that each hook was shaped by a forged steel bar with cross-area 75x25 mm and break load >25 tons ... that could not 'slip' off. All four side locks were reported to have been deformed or ripped apart, but no pictures are shown, as there are no damaged locks to show except one lock that seems to have been damaged earlier! The Commission does not say that each side lock had a break load of >25 tons 3.10, which could never have been ripped apart by a lose visor hanging on the ramp.
The Ramp was fully open
Stenström partly explains the above falsification of History in his (then) confidential status report dated 15 December 1994 (act A81b*), where he states in paragraph 8:
"8. ... When the visor fell of the ship (at 01.15 hrs - sic), it had pulled the ramp to a fully open position, which permitted initially large amounts of water to enter the car deck during a short period of time (sic). It might explain the initial quick listing to starboard as observed by survivors. The later development might have been the result of the ship turning away from the waves, which reduced the water inflow (through the ramp opening, author's note - compare 1.9). The main engines stopped at this time and the ship drifted in the waves, while it filled with water (sic) and sank".
The secret status report of Stenström (act A81b*) was naturally completely wrong apart from just stating that the visor had pulled apart all ramp locks /hooks and pulled the ramp fully open, as a reduced water inflow through the ramp opening should have stopped the listing and the water on the car deck should have flowed out51, the ship would have uprighted and the ship would never have sunk. Had more water flowed in, the 'Estonia' should have turned turtle, capsized and floated upside down on the watertight hull. And not to forget - in October 1994 the crew in the ECR had reported that the ramp was closed two minutes after the sudden listing 1.3.
However, the Final report (5) announced later a completely different course of events as outlined above - the water inflow was 2 000 tons between 01.14 and 01.24 hrs, i.e. about 200 tons/minute, when the ferry had forward speed into the waves, then another 2,000 tons between 01.24 and 01.27 hrs, i.e 667 tons/minute - an increase of 300%, after the ferry having stopped and turned back towards Tallinn away from the waves 1.9. More water would flow in when the vessel had stopped and when the opening was away from the waves!? Not very logical at all. According to basic principles all water should have flowed out!
In the record of the meeting (act A81a*) the question about the ramp is described as follows:
"It was reported (at the meeting) that observations done during the diving (2-4 December 1994) had given more information about the course of events, which was reported in a separate report to the meeting (the dive expedition report? - it does not exist in the archive - author's note). It was particularly reported that the ramp now is considered to have been fully open during a certain period of time. It is confirmed that the ramp locks were in the locked position with a question mark for the port lower lock pin, which was only partly pushed out into its pocket".
Unfortunately we do not know who reported/considered that the ramp in the superstructure had been fully open during a certain time, and how and why, and how anybody knew that the ramp had been locked. The reader is again asked to compare with observations in 3.10. In the Final report (5) there is no evidence anywhere that the ramp had been fully open in spite of statements to this effect.
It was probably the Swedes in the Commission, together with Johan Franson from the Swedish NMA, who by a manipulated and intellectually dishonest dive report, misled the whole Commission to believe that the ramp had been pulled fully open during the accident. Otherwise a lot of water could never suddenly have entered the superstructure, so that the 'Estonia' suddenly listed at 01.15 hrs (or 01.02 hrs). How the ramp then later could close itself was never discussed at the meeting or ever. That the ramp had never been open was out of the question. It was sufficient to announce that the ramp had been fully open, which the Commission accepted. If this obvious manipulation led to the resignation of the Commission chairman Andi Meister later is another question 1.20.
The suggestions of Stenström in December 1994 were evidently based on no facts at all - everything was invented.
How Stenström then could have stated that the ramp had been in a fully open position and then closed itself between 01.18-01.28 hrs, we may never know.52 Evidently all the proposals of Stenström were intentional disinformation - the 'Estonia' had listed already at 01.02 hrs and then the visor was still in place and this could not be said. To manipulate everything the Commission instead made up the story that the visor had fallen off at 01.15 hrs - and pulled open the ramp fully. But the Commission had then no knowledge about the ramp lock design.
Clear but confusing Disinformation
The history of the ramp is clear evidence of the disinformation of the Commission. The Commission at first believed that it was sufficient to state (on 4 and 17 October; 1.4 and 1.12) that the lost visor had caused the sinking and that water had entered into the superstructure through a partly open ramp according to witnesses 1.3. The Commission used the word capsize, even if it was evident that the ship had not capsized.
During the month of November some members of the Commission detected that the ramp must have been fully open to quickly allow 1 000-2 000 tons of water to heel the ship 20-37 degrees 1.9 and that then the vessel must turn turtle. Therefore they were forced to modify the course of events with the statement that the visor had pulled the ramp fully open, which did not agree with the crew testimonies of September 1994 or what would really have happened, if the ramp was pulled open 1.1 - instant capsize.
And all the video films - both the Finnish from 2 and 9 October and later the Swedish from 2-4 December showed that the ramp was closed, pushed into the frame. Therefore the divers of Franson were told to say (or the statements were just invented) that the ramp locks had been pulled apart and the ramp itself had been pulled open, and so the Commission could announce on 15 December that the ramp had been open a certain (sic) time 3.10. It did not solve the problem. A fully open ramp should have caused immediate capsize, 1.1 and Appendix 4. So an emergency solution was the statement that the ramp had been fully open only during a certain time of the accident, and that it later had closed itself, stopping the listing and permitting some hundreds of persons to escape and that it should have taken 30-40 minutes for the ship to sink - how could later never be explained. In such a way the Commission tried to silence the few critics in December 1994, who tried follow the developments.
It is interesting to note that no stability calculations were discussed at the third meeting and that the media did not ask any questions, why the stability matter was not mentioned in the press release. How could the Commission confirm a course of events without stability calculations? It could not - so no stability calculations were done at the time. Later completely falsified stability calculations were produced 3.12.
The conclusion of this chapter is that the Commission consciously - intentionally - misled the public in December 1994, when it changed the course of events from a leaking ramp to a fully open ramp of the superstructure. Evidently the falsification of History had started already on 28 September 4.4 and then it was known that the ramp had never been pulled open at all and the sinking was due to severe leakage of the hull. Probably the visor was found at the bow on 30 September 1.14 and removed from the wreck a few days later. Starting from December 1994 all information of the Commission was therefore adapted to support the false course of events about water-on-the-car-deck-in-the-superstructure and the falsification of History was organised. The Commission started with the strength of the visor locks.
An accident must have a proximate cause - and the Commission chose the visor locks made 1979 - fifteen years before the accident. To suit this false allegation the Commission also decided that the ramp had been fully open during the accident.
50 The record of meeting (act A81a*) of 15 December paragraph 4 says
"The apparent fact that the ramp had been fully open for some period of time, allowing water ingress at a very high rate, complicates the probable time schedule".
Paragraph 3.3 says
"An updated time table for sequence of events was presented - in agreement with Finland(s) list",
i.e. two months after the accident the Commission started to change the course of events.
51 You only need 600 tons of water on the car no. 2 deck two meters above waterline to heel the ship 15 degrees 1.9. But with only 600 tons of water on the car deck, the car deck itself and the water on it were completely above the water line figure 2.16.1 - and the water should have flowed out by itself, if the ship stopped with the bow turned away from the waves.
52 The author's opinion about Stenström is that he was a quite knowledgeable engineer 1994 - how he could be manipulated to start telling about a lose visor and a pulled open ramp, which later was closed, is a mystery, the solution of which he brought with him, when he died 1.20 - Forssberg had started the corruption process of Stenström in October 1994 1.13 in connection with the removal of the visor and the censorship of the stability. Then Stenström probably arranged the Swedish navy salvage of the visor at the wreck to complete the manipulation of the investigation and to solidify the falsification of History. Stenström was a reserve Swedish navy engineering corps commander.