Welcome to a chapter of the e-book Disaster Investigation.
1.39 The Swedish Ministry of Transport - Participants of the Cover-up
The Group of Analysis did not examine the Swedish Ministry of Transport. It is similar to the NMA and the SHK with regard to the 'Estonia' accident investigation. Its civil servants - politically or normally appointed - do not respond to any communications about the 'Estonia' or about improved safety at sea. All is filed - no action is taken. The Ministry appointed 1995 a committee to propose an 'Action Programme for improved Safety at sea'. The result was the report SOU 1996:182 Handlingsprogram för ökad sjösäkerhet (Action Programme for improved Safety at Sea). The report/programme was circulated to interested parties for comments and review, including the writer, and the writer duly made some comments 970826 Dnr 001/97 with some simple proposals - safety at sea should be simple - but the Ministry never replied. No actions were taken as a result of the Action programme.
The Group of Analysis never examined, why the Ministry of Transport refused to review the suggestions made. There are a few civil servants handling safety at sea at the Ministry but they are afraid to touch any proposal for safety at sea, which refers to the 'Estonia' accident'.
1.40 A Review of the 'Estonia' Disaster and its Consequences (SOU 1998:132 (25)). Private Property confiscated
The Group of Analysis 1.36 made 1998 a review of the 'Estonia' disaster and its consequences (25) in Swedish - En granskning av Estoniakatastrofen och dess följder (A Review of the 'Estonia' Disaster and its Consequences). The report contains many new descriptions and remarkable events during the investigation indicating that other parties had an interest to cover up the investigation of the Commission. The Group interviewed all the persons involved but avoided asking pertinent questions and following up interesting new leads. Some events are described below:
"Part 2.6 The Prime Ministers meet Survivors (page 29 of (25)).
The Estonian prime minister Mart Laar said that he on 28 September 1994 at Turku talked with three Estonian crewmembers who told about a wave that from below lifted the visor. This statement is remarkable. The three crewmembers were Sillaste, Linde and Treu.
Sillaste was questioned by the Finnish police on the same day 1.3. Sillaste then said that he saw the inner ramp in place on the car deck after the listing had occurred and that there was no big amount of water on the car deck - the ramp was only leaking. The bilge pumps were running. Sillaste thought that the ship was leaking.
Linde was questioned by the Finnish police the following day. He had been on the car deck just prior to the accident - the listing. Everything was OK in spite of the fact that he had heard a big bang. The ramp was not leaking. Then he had returned to the bridge, where he was ordered to return down to investigate a problem. Linde was on deck 7, when the listing occurred. When he later was in a life raft at about 01.30 hrs 1.8, he saw that the visor was missing, but that the ramp was closed, i.e. no water could have entered there.
Treu was questioned by the Finnish police on 28 and 29 September. He said that two heavy bangs/waves had hit the 'Estonia' at about 01.00 or 01.15 hrs and that he had seen on the monitor in the ECR that water came in on the car deck at the sides of the forward ramp, whereby the ship slowly heeled. The ramp was not open. Therefore he stayed on in the ECR until the angle of list was >70°, when he walked (sic) up to the open deck at about 01.30 hrs and then jumped into the water without a life jacket. When he later got onto an upside down life boat, he saw that the visor was missing - he was not asked, if the ramp was open. Treu did not see the ramp fully open on the monitor 1.10. How Treu could have heard the two bangs inside the sound insulated ECR is difficult to understand - maybe he felt them - or he was told to say something to the effect that the ship had been suddenly hit - by waves? Other persons on deck 1 just forward of the ECR were thrown into the bulkheads due to the bangs but Treu never described such events. How Treu managed to get out from the ECR, when the ship had <70° list is not clear. Probably Treu lied to the Finnish police or his testimonies have been manipulated later.
If Laar had talked to the three crewmembers, Laar should obviously have been told what they told the Finnish police - and the three crewmembers never told about a wave lifting the visor. The visor was regarded at this time only as cosmetics, the function of which was making the ship nice and deflecting waves. The three crewmembers knew that the visor could not have caused the vessel to sink in 35 minutes. The visor could have been lost, when the ship was listing. And Sillaste had told the Finnish police that the 'Estonia' was leaking - why didn't Laar tell his prime minister colleagues this? The information given by Laar to the Group of Analysis seems to be doubtful.
Part 2.6 Prime Minister Bildt wants an Examination of Passenger Ferry Design (page 29 of (25)).
The Swedish prime minister Bildt said that he then, on the same day, called his minister of transport, Mats Odell, about the information of Mr Laar. Odell was told to contact the Swedish NMA. For a detailed description of what happened then 4.4.
It is remarkable that the NMA then did not inform Odell and Bildt that the 'Estonia' should have capsized and floated upside down, if it were water on the car deck. Why did not prime minister Bildt ask, if the 'Estonia' had sunk due to, e.g. hull leakage?
Part 2.7 The Swedish NMA searches for Information (page 32 of (25)).
The Swedish NMA was thus quickly informed that the 'Estonia' had sunk and had direct contacts with the government. But it seems that the NMA only accepted the suggestion 1994-1998 that the ship had sunk due to a lost visor - and a design fault of the visor locks. Why didn't the NMA itself investigate how and why the 'Estonia' had sunk? The stability experts of the NMA knew, or should have known, that water on the car deck was only extra cargo/weight, which listed the ship, until the ship capsized, when it should have floated upside down.
The answer is that the directors of the NMA told their experts to shut up and then censored all information about the stability. It is remarkable that the Group of Analysis, which interviewed the NMA staff several times - Franson, Arvidsson, Anderson, etc. (page 280 of (25)) in March 1998 (after that the writer's book (1) had been published in Sweden and had been presented by the Swedish daily Finanstidningen twice at meetings at the Operakällaren (a restaurant) and the ABF end February 1998 at Stockholm, where the Group of Analysis was present), did not ask any questions about the cause of accident. The Group of Analysis should of course have asked the NMA, why it did not investigate leakage as cause of accident. Wasn't the NMA interested in the cause of accident? And why did the NMA censor its experts?
Part 2.9 The Question of incorrectly designed Bow Visors (page 45 of (25)).
Prime minister Bildt said that he concluded already on 28 September that something was wrong with the visor - it was incorrectly designed. How Bildt already on 28 September knew this is very unclear, but the matter was referred to the Swedish NMA, which had certain points of view. Bildt then concluded that it was remarkable that the suspicions about incorrectly designed bow visors originated with the government - on 28 September! - and was not known by the responsible authority.
The authority - the NMA - should evidently at this early time have told Bildt that (a) the visor of 'Estonia' was only cosmetics of the superstructure and (b) water on the car deck in the superstructure should have caused immediate capsize (compare the 'Jan Heweliusz' and the 'Herald of Free Enterprise'), and (c) water leaking in below the car deck through a hull leakage should have sunk the ship, if the water spread through open watertight doors and if the bilge pumps did not work. Leakage as cause of accident could not have been ignored at this time - 28 September 1994.
Part 2.11 The Swedish Board of Accident Investigation (SHK) (page 47 of (25)).
The SHK said that it appointed naval architect Börje Stenström 1.5 as a Swedish investigator. Stenström should have known that the 'Estonia' should have capsized with about two thousands tons of water on the car deck and then been floating upside down. Stenström had knowledge about stability, and water on the car deck was a simple intact stability problem, which he should have solved in a few minutes. We know now that the SHK director general Forssberg stopped the stability calculations of Stenström on 26 October 1994 1.15 just a few days before Stenström met the writer at the IMO on Monday 31 October 1994, when the writer told Stenström the same thing - check the stability. If Stenström could not calculate stability, then the expert, Dr Michael Huss, could, because he made a correct calculation and gave it to Forssberg on 2 January 1995. Forssberg made the Huss calculations secret. It seems that the Group of Analysis did not dare to investigate these strange manipulations of Forssberg, when it interviewed him. The Group of Analysis carefully avoided to interview Huss. It is also remarkable that the SHK did not, internally, discuss or investigate leakage as cause of accident. The Group of Analysis should at least have asked the SHK, why it did not investigate leakage as cause of accident.
Part 2.15 The Task to chart the Reporting Routines at the Swedish NMA (page 55 of (25)).
The former chief justice Magnus Sjöberg was by the government given the task to investigate the reporting routines at the Swedish NMA.
In spite of the fact that the 'Estonia' accident was a clear example how a ship had lost its stability, Mr Sjöberg did not investigate how the NMA checks and validates ships stability. Sjöberg apparently did not notice that Mr Franson had told his staff to shut up about the 'Estonia' stability with water on the car deck.
Sjöberg only charted some routines about surveys of visors and found some deficiencies. That Sjöberg did not chart the routines to check stability, evacuation, life saving equipment, fire protection, etc. is remarkable - he was either fooled by the NMA or participated in the cover up. The Group of Analysis did not dare to ask Sjöberg why he made an inferior and limited job.
Part 2.16 The Swedish Board of Accident Investigation (SHK) (page 57 in (25)).
Olof Forssberg told the Group of Analysis that he emphasized already on 3 October 1994 the importance to quickly investigate the cause of accident - what else should he do? In spite of this Olof Forssberg then, e.g. stopped all attempts to check the stability of the 'Estonia' with water on the car deck 1.15 and in-depth interviews of survivors by expert Schager, etc. Forssberg was at this time well known for having prevented his assistants to investigate particular aspects of the accident, but the Group of Analysis never followed up. The writer had in fact made the relevant stability calculations in a letter dated 3 April 1995, which the SHK recorded in act F69. The SHK never replied. The Group of Analysis should of course have asked Olof Forssberg, why he did not reply to letters from the public about the 'Estonia' stability.
Part 2.20 The Discussion about the Cause of Accident (page 66 of (25)).
The Group of Analysis notes that, at the end of the first week after the accident, the media was only reporting what could have caused the visor to fall off. But the Group does not pursue this matter - that the visor had nothing to do with the actual sinking.
It is interesting to note that the authorities did not interfere in the discussion of the media and clarified matters like intact stability and that ships float on their hulls, stability with water on the car deck in the superstructure above the hull and that water on the car deck makes vessels capsize and float upside down on the hull, that water on the car deck cannot sink ships, etc.
The authorities should have told the public and the media that ships often sink due to leakage in the hull and when watertight doors are open in the hull and bilge pumps in the hull are not working, etc. and that regulatory damage stability criteria means that passenger ships can float with two watertight compartments flooded in the hull, etc. But in the 'Estonia' case the Swedish NMA observer in the Commission, master mariner and director, Sten Anderson, directly and indirectly gave completely misleading information, e.g. that water on the car deck in the superstructure sinks ships! The Group of Analysis interviewed Anderson but did not dare to ask him about the matter.
Part 2.22 The Report of the NMA is handed over to the Ministry of Transportation (page 70 of (25)).
On 11 October 1994 the NMA (Franson) handed over a report about salvaging the dead bodies to the responsible minister - Ms Uusmann. At that time the Norwegian salvage company Stolt-Comex had already made an offer to salvage all victims at cost - no profit, while Franson advised that it was not possible.
Apart from the above it is remarkable that the NMA did not report to Ms Uusmann about the stability of the 'Estonia' etc. Franson had at this time already censored his experts and told them not to talk about the stability. Now Franson kept the minister herself in the dark. The Group of Analysis did not pursue the matter either. The objective of the Group of Analysis was to describe how Swedish authorities had handled the disaster. Here was a clear example of an authority giving misleading information to the government - and the Group of Analysis didn't notice.
Part 2.30 Rockwater is appointed to dive (page 91 of (25)).
In the report (25) is said that the Swedish delegation of the Commission wished that the divers should examine i.a. damages on the ramp and its locking appliances. According to the Finnish member Karppinen 1.10 he gave the divers a written order to examine whether the ramp had actually been open (which the Commission had already stated without evidence), as the ramp was closed down at the wreck. The divers could then, according to the Final report (5) not enter the car deck, as the ramp was closed, and they could then not examine, if the ramp had been open and if the locks were damaged 1.16. The Final report (5) therefore does not include any details about the ramp locks and their damages. Regardless, the Commission stated (a) the ramp had been locked, (b) the locks were damaged, (c) the ramp had been fully open during the accident and (d) the ramp had later closed itself. The Group of Analysis did not bother to investigate these unproven statements, but it actually later recommended that divers should salvage all dead bodies (see below). This recommendation meant that divers must check the car deck for dead bodies and it should then have been possible to really check the ramp locks, if they were broken and if the ramp hand been locked, opened and closed.
It was probably one of the main reasons why the Swedish government later did not follow the recommendation of the Group of Analysis. If the bodies were to be saved, it would be very easy to confirm the condition of the ramp.
Part 2.31 The first Meeting of the Ethical Advice Board - Presentation of the Analysis of Consequences 1.16 (page 93 of (25)).
An Ethical Advice Board was formed by the government. It consisted of laymen to decide what to do with the dead bodies. The Group of Analysis interviewed many members of this ethical board 1998. Johan Franson, the legal head of the NMA, was the first to be invited to the Ethical Advice Board to make a presentation of his Analysis of Consequences mid-December 1994.
Franson only reported that it was difficult to salvage the dead bodies and that he did not recommend it. Neither the Ethical Advice Board 1994 nor the Group of Analysis then knew that Franson had just participated to salvage luggage from the 'Estonia' and destroyed evidence from the 'Estonia' at the dive examination a week earlier. They did not know that Franson lied to them to protect the NMA and to assist in the cover-up of the Truth. Franson could evidently not tell the Ethical Advice Board that the 'Estonia' should have capsized and floated upside down on its hull with water inside the superstructure above the hull and that the official cause of accident was not true. He had to manipulate the Ethical Advice Board with fairy tales.
Part 2.31 A thorough Review and Picture Show (page 93 of (25)).
The presentation of Franson was, according to the Group of Analysis, thorough. He showed how the ship was resting on the bottom.
But Franson did not explain why the 'Estonia' had ended on the sea floor. There was not one word about intact and initial stability, stability with water on the car deck in the superstructure and how water in the superstructure heels the ship until capsize, that water in the superstructure does not sink ships, that ships sink because leak of the hull and that watertight doors are open, bilge pumps do not work, and that people drown if there is not lifesaving equipment for all onboard. The opposite - Franson told the Ethical board that water in the superstructure sank the 'Estonia'.
When the Group of Analysis interviewed Franson in 1998, it evidently never asked him why he misled the Ethical Advice Board in 1994.
Part 2.36 The Opinion of the SHK regarding the Demand for Salvage (page 108 of (25)).
Forssberg told the Group of Analysis 1998 that he in December 1995 had informed minister Ines Uusmann (at her request) that it was not necessary to salvage the wreck to investigate the cause of accident.
From the Forssberg point of view salvage was not required to find the cause of accident, as Forssberg had already at various times October-December announced the cause of accident - badly designed visor locks 1980 and not, e.g. hull leakage 1994 1.11. When the Group of Analysis interviewed Forssberg 1998, it was of course known that the alleged cause of accident was not proven in the Final report (5) 1.22, which of course Forssberg had not signed.
Neither Forssberg nor Franson could explain how and why the 'Estonia' had sunk. The relationship between (A) allegedly bad visor locks 1980 and (B) the sinking 1994 was still completely unclear 1998 and the Group of Analysis knew this. It should have been clear that the Forssberg recommendation to Uusmann in 1994 not to salvage the wreck was only to protect himself and the persons who had told him only to pursue the investigation of the visor locks. But the Group of Analysis did not ask any relevant questions about this matter.
The statement of Forssberg contributed to the government decision not to salvage the 'Estonia' (part 2.40 of (25)).
Part 2.43 Relatives report the Master of the 'Ale' for Negligence at Sea (part 124 of (25)).
Some persons tried to secure evidence from the 'Estonia' and their ship was anchored above the wreck. A dive flag was shown requesting other ships to stay away. The Swedish ship 'Ale' tried to sink the ship by ramming it. It was a crystal clear fault of the international traffic regulations at sea. There are no exemptions. The persons reported the incident to the authorities - the Swedish NMA. The interesting thing is that the ship 'Ale' belonged to the Swedish NMA (sic) and it was apparently the NMA, which ordered the master of the 'Ale' to ram the ship. But the Group of Analysis found the whole thing in order. No criticism of neither the master of the 'Ale' nor the NMA.
Part 2.54 The Work of the international Commission (page 144-5 of (25)).
The Group of Analysis was told by the government not to study the work of the Commission. However the Group of Analysis concluded (page 245 of (25)) that the discussion, what actually caused the sinking of the 'Estonia', was still, 1998, going on. The Group of Analysis did not expand on the subject. It should have said that all Swedish authorities refused to participate in the public discussions.
Part 2.57 Different Explanations of the Cause of Accident (page 152 on (25)).
Chief prosecutor Tomas Lindstrand, Stockholm, told the Group of Analysis that there were different explanations about the cause of accident. Lindstrand was hence aware of the possibility that the crew lied about what had happened aboard. The German group of Experts 3.13 stated clearly that the crew lied (and it could probably prove it), when it presented its cause of accident 3.15.
One of the reasons for chief prosecutor Tomas Lindstrand not to carry out any of his own investigations was that no crime like negligence of the ship owner, negligence of the crew, negligence of the responsible authority, collusion of any party, etc. behind the accident could be visualized (sic). Lindstrand was not curious why and how the ship sank, even if he was aware of the fact that the 'Estonia' would have capsized with water on the car deck in the superstructure. Lindstrand had read (1) and had thanked the writer for the free copy.
The decision of Lindstrand was criticized in the media, but the Group of Analysis considered the decision of Lindstrand to be correct.
Part 2.52 Request of Appeal (page 152 of (25)).
The senior chief prosecutor Uno Hagelberg refused to change the decision of Lindstrand. Even if the crew lied about what happened, he suspected no crime behind the sinking, i.e. Hagelberg assumed that the ship was seaworthy, the ship owner not negligent, etc. The Group of Analysis had no further comments about the Hagelberg decision.
Part 5.3 The Recommendation (pages 258-261 of (25)).
The job of the Group of Analysis was to look at how the various Swedish authorities had handled the disaster. The analysis was about the actions and decisions of Swedish authorities. But on page 258 of (25) the Group of Analysis suddenly states that its prime objective was to restore the public's confidence in the authorities.
Salvage the Bodies
The only recommendation of the Group of Analysis was to salvage the dead bodies!
Why salvaging the bodies would restore the public's confidence in the Swedish authorities is not clear.
It is quite sad that the Group of Analysis had no other recommendations based on what they presented. The part report (25) of the Group of Analysis confirmed what most critics of the Final report (5) suggested - that the investigators lied about the cause of accident and what had happened and that, e.g. other authorities and civil servants supported the investigators like Forssberg and Franson by not taking any action (e.g. Lindstrand, Hagelberg) or producing a misleading report (Magnus Sjöberg).
Learn from the 'Estonia'
On 21 April 1999 the Group of Analysis presented its final report 'Lära av Estonia' (Learn from the 'Estonia)(26). It does not contain any further clarifications or comments about the strange behaviour of the Swedish establishment outlined above (and it is only a small fraction of all strange events).
No Recommendations to improve Safety at Sea
The Group of Analysis did not make any recommendations how the authorities can improve safety at sea or improve the investigation of accidents, i.e. Sweden was not going to learn anything from the 'Estonia'. The group only recommends better handling of the victims of any crisis or disaster.
Swedish Police Actions never investigated
In that respect it is interesting to note that the Group of Analysis never 1997-1999 investigated the actions of the Swedish police after the accident 1994! It is clear (see pages 47 and 53 in (25)) that Swedish police assisted the Finnish authorities in Finland itself (three persons) to identify the victims there and (see page 56 in (25)) and that one Swedish policeman was sent to Tallinn on 5 October 1994 to check the passenger lists - that was officially all the Swedish police did. Swedish police then should have been able to confirm the number of survivors, the number of recovered dead bodies and the number of persons, which had disappeared, which would have been interesting to see being reviewed. There is still confusion about how many were rescued; 1.41 and 1.46. But Swedish police was present both at Finland and Estonia (Tallinn) with full insight of the work to identify survivors and how they were salvaged, but the Group of Analysis never bothered to examine that work. Nor did the Group of Analysis study what e.g. the assisting ships like the 'Mariella' did to look after the rescued persons and why the rescued persons apparently were locked up on board.
Films taken onboard disappear. Private Property confiscated
Another (?) Swedish police Lars Jonsson was at Tallinn on 13 October, when the question arose what to do with the property found belonging to a victim of the accident. The victim was the Swedish press photographer Håkan Isefjord from Oskarshamn and the property, which was at the Swedish embassy, was a camera and two rolls of films found in lifeboat no. 9 (the aftermost lifeboat starboard side, which would have come under water first when the ship sank, which had been swept up on the Estonian coast). A decision was made on 17 October by prosecutor Ola Brogren and chief prosecutor Britta Cronier, Stockholm, that the property should be confiscated. What happened then with the films is not clear (the relatives of Mr Isefjord only received the camera). The Group of Analysis was obviously not told that private property was confiscated by the Swedish state/police and could not ask the bosses of Brogren/Cronier, i.e. chief prosecutor Thomas Lindstrand and supreme prosecutor Uno Hagelberg (who had been promoted in the meantime), when they were interviewed on 30 March 1998.
The film rolls were in fact developed and have since disappeared. There is a possibility that Mr Isefjord actually was on deck 7 before and after the listing occurred and then, evidently took pictures of the course of events, e.g. that no. 1 MoB boat was launched, and then saved himself up into lifeboat no. 9, where he secured the camera and the film rolls.
As the Group of Analysis did not investigate how the number of rescued was decided and how the rescued persons was treated, there is reason to look at that in the next chapter.