Welcome to a chapter of the e-book Disaster Investigation.
3.16 The Accident according to the Germans - the Visor
The Germans concluded (24) 1997 that the primary causes of the accident were
(a) that the visor was filled with water (it was not tight) due to the sea condition and that this water leaked into the car deck space through the leaking ramp (which Linde was lying about). The Germans then thought that the water on the car deck sloshed around on the car deck and that some water flowed down to deck 1, and
The Germans thought that it was the (badly repaired) visor hinges that were broken first 1.11 - the water inside the visor should have caused a force in the forward direction pulling the hinges apart, and then that the (also badly repaired) side locks should have been ripped open. Then the visor tipped forward and pushed open the ramp already at 00.45-00.46 hrs and a lot of water flooded the car deck. The visor was then held in place by the hydraulics and the bottom Atlantic lock. But the Germans did not say how much water actually came into the superstructure and why the ship did not permanently list until sudden capsize. It was suggested that the stabilizers kept the ship upright.
No German Stability Calculations
The Germans 1995-1999 did not make any stability calculations with water on the car deck in the superstructure.
The Germans never considered that any water on the car deck would flow to the lowest point on the car deck and would trim and heel the ship. As the lowest point naturally would shift position, the water on the car deck would thus move around. It would have resulted in violent movements - say 600 tons of water - an enormous lose weight - would trim the ship one meter on the bow and on the stern, when it moved forward/aft and it would have caused permanent list 10 degrees, when it flowed sideway. Such movements were never observed by any survivor, so there were never any big amounts of water in the superstructure. The Germans - like the Commission - could not imagine what 600 tons of lose water would have been - a monster that could not have been controlled, and if this monster later consisted of 1 500-2 000 tons of water, that it would have tipped the ship upside down - capsize.
The Germans suggested then in (24) that the crew observed the lose visor, reduced speed and turned against the wind and tried to secure the visor, which is totally in contradiction with the Commission's course of events 1.9 - that the 'Estonia' continued at 14 knots for two minutes after losing the visor. The ship was still upright, but
' at 01.02 hrs the ship listed suddenly to starboard - estimated angle of list 50 degrees124 - then uprighted and listed then 15 degrees to starboard, from where the list slowly increased'.
The Final report (5) evidently does not mention that the 'Estonia' suddenly listed 30-50 degrees to starboard already at 01.02 hrs. The Germans thought that it then was a lot of water on the car deck and that maybe the starboard stabilizer fin was broken, which caused the list.
The Germans apparently then never thought about the possibility that the hull was leaking and that water on deck 0 at the bottom of the hull caused the listing due to free water surface effects on deck 0.
No German Plot of the Accident
The Germans then thought that the visor starboard side was pushed up by a buoyancy force, when the angle of list was extreme, when the Atlantic lock was broken sideway 3.7 and that the visor at last was just hanging in the hydraulics. Finally the visor fell off at about 01.20 hrs - 18 minutes after the listing occurred. The Germans apparently believed that the visor was lost 1 560 meters West of the wreck but could never plot their alternative sequence of events.
But the ramp protecting the superstructure was apparently not pulled open - it only leaked all the time.
Visor lost after the Listing
The German scenario is quite similar to the writer's, i.e. the visor was lost after the listing occurred, pushed off sideways. The writer however believes it happened below water after the accident. The Germans add several observations that the visor was pulled off sideway - scrape marks on various parts of it. The Final report (5) evidently does not examine the possibility that the visor was ripped off sideway. But it is possible that these scrap marks were made, when the visor was still attached to the ship.
It is very strange that the Germans never concluded that the cause of the sudden list was free water on deck 0 in the hull due to leakage resulting in the loss of initial stability - the sudden listing - and that then the very badly repaired and maintained visor just fell off by itself afterwards.
Unrealistic Suggestions - Explosions before Sinking
Later, 1999, the Germans suggested that an explosive device between visor and ramp had ripped off the visor 3.18 before the ship started to sink, but the Germans could again not make any logical sense out of all its observations. An explosive device between visor and ramp of a superstructure would not open the ramp. An explosive device between visor and ramp of the superstructure does not sink the ship! And the Germans never bothered to explain why and how the ship sank, how the hull was flooded, which is their biggest mistake.
The Germans had access to the media 1995-1997 but they never suggested to the media that water on the car deck in the superstructure would simply have caused immediate capsize and that the ship would then have floated upside down on the hull.
The main strength of the German investigation is that it presents new proven facts about the condition of visor and ramp and what happened aboard before the accident.
The main weakness of the German investigation is that it does not try to sort the facts what happened after the accident in a logical order and that it does not make any stability calculations whatsoever.
The Germans could never reconstruct a course of events with the visor falling off at 01.20 hrs, when they say that the ship was stable on the side with 40 degrees list. To be stable in that position the hull must have been flooded and the superstructure must have provided some buoyancy. The German final report issued 2000 is a strange document - it mirrors the Final report (5) of the Commission and points out some evident mistakes - but avoids all facts about stability, watertight integrity, subdivision and watertight doors and life saving equipment and the real course of events - and the real cause of the accident.
The Germans should of course have noticed that the alleged visor position of the Commission 1 560 meters West of the wreck did not tally with their or any scenario. Why didn't the Germans suggest that the visor position must have been false?
In 2007 the Germans suggest that a collision caused the loss of visor!
124 This writer believes the angle of heel was only >30 degrees, but that the combination of sudden list, roll and waves hitting the side made the impression that the ship listed 50 degrees. In this book the sudden list is assumed to have been >30 degrees followed by a permanent list at 15 degrees.