Welcome to a chapter of the e-book DisasterInvestigation.
3.14 The actual Condition of the Visor - damaged
According the Commission (5) the visor was in excellent original condition 1994 without any modifications during 14 years service and without wear and tear. The evidences (sic) for this were various anonymous statements. In chapter 13.2.3 of the Final report (5) - The condition of the bow visor and the ramp installations - only a few minor defects are described.
According to the report (24) of the German group of experts, which had already been informed to the Commission in letter of 14 August 1995 (act B104** and B122**) the maintenance of the visor was not done properly. The Final report (5) does not investigate, i.a. the following facts of the German group of experts.
The visor stem steel bar, which normally should transfer 80% of the weight of the visor to the hull, when the visor was closed, was damaged before the accident, and the visor rested on the guide cone on the fore peak deck, which was deformed.
The rubber packing of the visor had not been renewed when worn and the visor was leaking. The capability of the packing to dampen visor movements, when the visor was locked, was also lost - the visor was rattling. It also meant that the whole load transmission between visor and hull was changed.
Serious plate damages due to sailing in ice the winter 1993/4 had been caused to the visor. The geometry of the visor had changed - it did not fit properly.
The deck hinges had been modified. The Germans showed that the bushes had been replaced, so that the strength was reduced. However as shown 3.3, the hinges were only exposed to maximum load, when the visor was opened and closed, and it had worked fine at Tallinn, when the last voyage started.
The Atlantic lock had been renewed and fitted in another position already in 1981/2 and then the welding between bushes and lugs must have been reduced from 8 to 3 mm. The lock had later been 'repaired' with bad welding, when a person - X - further reduced the strength:
... (X ... has cut off the upper parts of the three steel lugs holding the bolt ... bushings ... After having removed these parts he has welded the bolt ... bushing into positions, fitting ... the changed position of the visor lug...) ,
The eye of the visor lug had been enlarged to suit the bolt, etc. The Germans did not conclude that the Atlantic lock was probably not in use at all at the fatal voyage - that it had been damaged before 3.7.
The hydraulics of the Atlantic lock did not work; the bolt had to engaged and removed by hammering on it, etc.
The side locks were misaligned at least 10 mm and were probably not original. The side locks were not salvaged in December 1994 to be examined.
The Germans pointed out a lot of other defects, all demonstrating that the ship owner or the crew did not bother too much with the visor maintenance. Later the Germans have suggested that the visor was not locked at departure but held in place by the hydraulics and its own weight. The manual locks may have been used. Thus the Atlantic lock was not used at the fatal voyage (it was damaged). The hydraulic side locks were also not used.
In conclusion the Germans demonstrated already in 1996 that the condition of the visor was not what the Commission stated. The Commission decided to ignore the German findings - it was the easiest solution - and strangely the Germans never protested too loudly.