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Welcome to a chapter of the e-book Disaster Investigation.

3.17 The Accident according to the Germans - Water on the Car Deck

The Germans then think that the angle of list increased, when more water entered through the partly open ramp and collected on the starboard side in the superstructure. The Germans do not consider that the ship would ever capsize, as they have no idea of basic ship stability. They instead make a strange and erroneous (24) conclusion:

'at about 01.20 hrs the visor moved forward, when the hydraulics broke through the forward bulkhead, and the visor separated from the hull (sic) - the angle of list was then 50-60 degrees and water flowed (a) in on top of the car deck and also (b) down to the lower decks in increasing amounts'.

First some corrections - the visor never separated from the hull. The visor was only attached to the forward end of the superstructure several meters above waterline and the question remains how, why and when it was detached from the superstructure. Second - the Germans do not understand that the ship (a) could not have been stable at 50-60 degrees list with water only in the superstructure.

The water (>4 000 tons) on the car deck was not any longer on the deck (!) - it was of course on top of the starboard inner side 2.16 of the superstructure - see fig. 3.17.1 right.

That water could of course not (b) flow down to lower decks in the hull as suggested, etc. - it could only tip the vessel upside down - capsize. And how could 4 000 tons of water have entered the superstructure space in the first place, if the visor and the ramp were still in place at 01.20 hrs and the list was 50-60 degrees?

As can be seen in figure 3.10 the visor cannot push open the ramp in an upright condition before the hydraulics have cut off the deck beam at frame 159 and nobody has explained how the deck beam could have been cut, when the list was 50-60 degrees. There is no evidence that the beam is cut, neither when the 'Estonia' was upright with 15 knots forward speed, nor when she was at the side with 50-60 degrees list and no forward speed!

Fig. 3.17.1 - 40 degrees list with 2.000 tons of water in the superstructure. With 4 000 tons the list would be 50 degrees and the water would hit the underside of deck 4.

1t 01.20 hrs the speed of the ship was nil and the bow was turned away from the waves. It means that the wave loads on the visor were nil and that the visor could not move forward and push open the ramp and that any water could not be pushed up into the ship. Unless the ship had capsized earlier, the water on the car deck would simply have flowed out the same way it came in, when the ship stopped. The German conclusions in (24) are therefore wrong. Totally wrong. This makes the German investigation very suspicious. Why do the Germans announce impossible conclusions?

The Germans and the Commission used the same 'Stability Expert'

Why did the Germans make the big mistake about basic ship stability with water loaded in the superstructure? Who was the expert of stability in the German Group of Experts?

He was no less than Mr. Veli-Matti Junnila, the same person that assisted the Commission (sic) to produce the false stability (stable) condition with 75 degrees list shown in 3.12. Mr. Veli-Matti Junnila had also done the last stability test in 1991 and the updated Stability manual of the 'Estonia' 2.17.

The Germans and the Commission used the same 'stability expert' to hide the fact that the 'Estonia' would capsize with about 2 000 tons of water in the superstructure!

The Germans cannot also explain the big hole in the starboard front bulkhead 3.10 or maybe they were not aware of it. The German suggestion that

" the hydraulics broke through the forward bulkhead"

at 01.20 hrs at 50-60 degrees is not proven ... and physically impossible. The Germans were apparently mislead by the Commission, which suggested the same thing - that the visor hydraulics had broken the superstructure structure - even if the Commission said it was before the listing occurred at 01.15 hrs, when the ship was upright. But there is no evidence for that too. All suggestions that the visor pulled open the ramp when the ship was upright or at 50-60 degrees list are false.

It should be noted that the Germans consider that the listing occurred at 01.02-01.05 hrs, i.e. that it was at least 15 minutes between the first list and the alleged loss of the visor at 50-60 degrees list. What happened during these 15 minutes, when the 'Estonia' with visor in place and with closed ramp heeled over 50-60 degrees? The Germans do not say, except that water flowed in through a leaking ramp!

Another very big weakness of the German investigation is that it does not present a plot of the ship's movements with alleged water on the car deck before and after the visor was lost at 50-60 degrees list, and where it is also explained, why the ship did not capsize, when there was >2 000 tons of water on the car deck in the superstructure at less than 40 degrees list. The Germans have never explained how the visor could have been lost 1 560 meters West of the wreck.

Therefore, in its later findings 1999 and conclusions the Germans, like the Commission changed its mind about the sequence of events, and actually suggest that the hull of the 'Estonia' was leaking before the sudden listing and that it caused the sinking. The bow ramp in the superstructure was evidently also leaking, but it did not cause the sinking, the Germans implied. It was an old defect. So the visor had nothing to do with the sinking, according to the Germans. But they never said so. In 1999 the German investigation was morally bankrupt. And the Commission was happy. The German failures gave some surprising credibility to the Commission's lies.


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