Welcome to a chapter of the e-book Disaster Investigation.
"One of the most serious traumas of the 'Estonia' accident ... was the inability of the assisting ferries to launch their rescue boats and to pick up survivors swimming in the cold water in the rough seas. ... Rescue boats ... were not launched because it was considered too dangerous for their crew. ... this situation should not be repeated after the 1st of July 2000, when new regulations require that all ferries should carry a seaworthy rescue-boat, which can be launched at a significant wave height of 3 meters. This is one of the major improvements in rescue equipment on the ferries in recent time."
Professor Olle Rutgersson, Royal Institute of Technology, Stockholm - 29 May 2000
"Do not include the fast rescue boat in the Port State Control examinations, i.e. do not consider if the crew is trained to handle the boat"
IMO recommendation 2001
"The DE Sub-Committee agreed that fast rescue boats should not, as a rule, be regarded as means of rescue."
International Maritime Organization's
Sub-Committee on Ship Design and Equipment (DE 47)
3.21 Shipping Companies pay billions! The Stockholm Agreement. Fast Rescue Boats are required 1995 but not considered 'means of rescue' 2004
The Scandinavian ferry companies have paid SEK100's of millions for strange modifications to prevent a new 'Estonia' accident, which will be described below. The money is wasted. The modifications will not and cannot prevent a new 'Estonia' accident. The 'modifications' were mainly propaganda to cover-up the real reasons for the 'Estonia' accident - the leaking hull due to a collision (?), the open watertight doors in the watertight bulkheads and defective life saving equipment.
A modern society cannot evidently function without rules. Particularly safety at sea requires international rules, which are developed and agreed by the United Nations and its International Maritime Organization, IMO. The foundation for the safety at sea work should be made by seamen, ship owners, ship builders and other parties with similar interests, e.g. ferry passengers. The practical applications are however handled by civil servants at the NMA's under the control of the governments and the members of the parliaments. In Sweden the government and the ministry of Transport have delegated the work for safety at sea rules to the Sjöfartsinspektionen - a department of the Swedish National Maritime Administration. Johan Franson 1.16 is the head of the Sjöfartsinspektionen. Johan Franson is not the right person to develop better safety at sea. He is an active participant in the 'Estonia' cover-up.
When an accident happens, e.g. the 'Estonia', and the whole community is activated, it may easily happen that the safety at sea work is negatively affected. Badly informed public and politicians with little knowledge about safety at sea rules may ignore why the ship really sank and why there were so many victims. They are rightly angry with the large number of victims.
Everybody interested in safety at sea knows that true developments can only be done if the Truth is established about accidents.
After the 'Estonia' accident 1994 there were no real discussions - the work of the Commission charged to investigate the accident was secret (!), only a false cause of accident was presented and investigated, and when its Final report was published in December 1997 there was no further discussion. The responsible parties - including the governments - refused to discuss. The whole investigation was in fact organized disinformation. In the meantime money was wasted.
A result of the 'Estonia' accident was very fast rule changes without discussion or analysis. Below are two examples.
The Stockholm Agreement
However, the Stockholm rule makers now assume that the ferry or passenger ship with the damaged hull rolls in severe weather with the side damage towards the wind and waves; that water flows up (sic) on the car deck into the superstructure, which is damaged i.w.o. the collision impact area above the waterline, and collects on the car deck and that; as a result, the ship capsizes, i.e. tips upside down and floats upside down as shown in figure 3.21.1. The assumed damage case is as follows:
(i) Severe collision in the side,
It has evidently nothing to do with the 'Estonia'. Estonia's hull was allegedly undamaged and water was only loaded on the vehicle deck via an open bow door in the superstructure 2,5 meters above the waterline.
The probability for events (i-viii) is probably zero (such an accident has never taken place in maritime history) and then it is still not certain that event (ix) actually occurs. Evacuation of the ship seems impossible - severe rolling/big waves, etc. - but as the probability for the whole event is zero, the evacuation is of no interest. Seamanship is not permitted in the above events - turn the damage away from the waves, heel the vessel on the undamaged side, etc.
The Stockholm agreement rules 1995 specify with some theoretical (sic - they cannot evidently be verified) formulas how much water is scoped up through the hole in the side on top of the damaged car deck in the damaged superstructure above the damaged waterline in severe weather. The damaged ship is assumed to roll, so that water can flow in on top of the car deck. Then the ship is assumed to roll back, so that the water is collected on the car deck, then the ship rolls again into the wave - no water flows out through the damage hole - but more water flows in, etc.
This is crazy - it has never been seen in reality.
This phenomenon has thus never been seen in reality, but theoretical formulas were developed (by dr Huss?) to describe it. If the ship is damaged at one of the ends, it evidently trims on the damaged end and no water can flow upwards into the superstructure. If it is damaged amidships the superstructure may be close to the waterline but why would water flow in, when the ship rolls? Why doesn't it flow out when the ship rolls to the other side? Not one ship model basin or university in Europe has been able to verify the Stockholm agreement rules - but all shuts up except the Hamburg Ship Model Basin, which recently published a report about 'Time-Dependent Survival Probability of a Damaged Passenger Ship (HSVA Report No. CFD 05/2002 by Petri Valanto, February 2002).
Mr Valanto had a little problem - "A permission to use an existing vessel for the simulation could not be obtained", i.e. no ferry company subject to the Stockholm agreement wanted to assist in the circus. Valanto never asked serious ferry operators in, e.g. the Mediterranean.
The Valanto report simulates mathematically what happens with an 'Estonia' type ferry after collision in extremely severe (and thus rare) weather and refers to another HSVA Report No. 1623 (1998) about model tests of leaking ferries in very severe weather (mathematical simulations must of course be checked against model simulations):
Example 1 - Wave height 13 m (sic - three times the wave height of the 'Estonia' accident - you wonder how ships manage to collide in such extreme weather?), period 6,7 s (very short), damage case 003/P1. The car deck fills with 6 000 tons (sic) of water during 150 seconds and the angle of heel increases to 30° on the damaged side - no capsize. Suddenly the ship rolls >60° to an angle of heel 35° on the opposite undamaged side, where it remains 10 seconds, then it rolls to the other, damaged, side again, angle of heel 45° and suddenly it rolls back to the other undamaged side - and capsizes and floats upside down.
Example 2 -Wave height 10 m, period 5,0 s (extremely short), damage case 005/P1. The car deck fills with about 4 000 tons of water during 210 seconds and the angle of heel increases to 20° on the damaged side - no capsize - ship rolls 10-20° at an increased angle of list. Suddenly after another 200 seconds the ship rolls >60° to an angle of heel 30° on the opposite, undamaged, side, where it remains 1 second, then it rolls to the other, damaged side again, angle of heel 45° and suddenly it rolls back to the other undamaged side - and capsizes and floats upside down.
The sea states used - wave height 10-13 meters - never occur in the Baltic or North Sea/Skagerak and hardly anywhere else. Who has ever heard about a ferry or passenger ship collision in 10-13 meter waves? The phenomena is explained as follows by Valanto (in his ivory tower): "The roll motions of the ship are greatly subdued by the water in the damaged compartments and on the vehicle deck, until a sufficient amount of water has accumulated and ship loses its stability rapidly. At this point the large oscillations, which then end up in capsizing, can (sic) take place".
There is no business like ship model basins - you can
invent what you like Appendix
2. The Stockholm agreement rules then mandate
that watertight (sic) divisions - barriers - shall be
installed on the car deck to prevent the assumed water on
the car deck making the ferry
capsize. How and why barriers inside the
superstructure above the waterline - damaged
or not - would prevent water to come is not clear.
It is suggested that the barriers will prevent the
water to spread inside the superstructure and that
the barriers will enclose the water inside the
superstructure preventing more water to flow in
(when the ship rolls). All this is of course nonsense - so it could
never be seriously discussed. Figure 3.21.2 -
Movable 'watertight door/bulkhead' in the side of
the superstructure A typical (Norwegian) installation is shown in
figures 3.21.2 and 3 right installed under a
hanging, portable car deck. The moveable bulkhead is positioned at the
ship's side, when the ferry is being loaded.
Thereafter it is swung athwart ships to block the
open car deck.There are two pairs of moveable
bulkheads on the shown ship. If water enters the
superstructure due to rolling, it collects at the
side and the ship heels. Figure 3.21.3 -
The movable 'watertight' bulkhead in the
superstructure in closed
How and why barriers inside the superstructure above the waterline - damaged or not - would prevent water to come is not clear. It is suggested that the barriers will prevent the water to spread inside the superstructure and that the barriers will enclose the water inside the superstructure preventing more water to flow in (when the ship rolls).
All this is of course nonsense - so it could never be seriously discussed.
Figure 3.21.2 -
Movable 'watertight door/bulkhead' in the side of
A typical (Norwegian) installation is shown in figures 3.21.2 and 3 right installed under a hanging, portable car deck.
The moveable bulkhead is positioned at the ship's side, when the ferry is being loaded. Thereafter it is swung athwart ships to block the open car deck.There are two pairs of moveable bulkheads on the shown ship. If water enters the superstructure due to rolling, it collects at the side and the ship heels.
Figure 3.21.3 - The movable 'watertight' bulkhead in the superstructure in closed position
However the Stockholm agreement permitted an alternative to the particular specific, theoretical rules how much water was scoped up on the car deck through a hole in the side - model tests! Model tests are cheap - about SEK 400.000:- per ferry - and the result is interesting: much less water - if any - is shown to enter the car deck than assumed by the theoretical rules in the assumed sea states (not 13 or 10 meter waves!) and the modification costs can be reduced considerably. It seems that the rules did not consider the trim! With a severe damage forward or aft (where hull subdivision is tighter) the ferry trims on the end and no water can flow up into the superstructure or the water occupies so little space that it doesn't matter. If the damage is amidships the trim may be small and the superstructure may be close to the water. But the ship is still floating safely. When it rolls and the superstructure side is temporarily under water, evidently you get water in the superstructure, but it also flows out when the ship rolls over in the other direction. Water may flow in and collect inside and the ship may list - and float - on the undamaged side and no more water can flow in. If a big wave comes and rolls the ship onto the damaged side, the water in the superstructure flows out through the hole. You would have expected that the theoretical rules would be changed due to the fact that model tests gave another result - but no.
The model tanks are happy to carry out these tests - why should they query the rules behind them?
The European model tanks are very afraid of criticizing the Stockholm agreement, as they will lose a lot of business doing it. It is better to shut up and carry out useless model tests. For the same reason the model basins do not criticize the Estonia accident investigation Final report (5). They all know that the Swedish model basin SSPA Marin AB falsified its model tests Appendix 2.
Actually, the sea states assumed in the Stockholm agreement were realistic - Beaufort 8-9 - wave heights 6-7 meters and then no damaged ferry capsizes. To really capsize a ferry you had to increase the wave heights to 10-13 meters, etc. and use the worst collision case - amidships damage. And then you could always find some idiotic scientist to develop mathematical 'simulation' programs to obtain the same result.
Seamanship - the best Solution - not permitted
There is of course a much simpler solution to the problem to prevent water inflow through a hole in the side of a damaged ferry caused by another ship in collision and severe weather and 6-7 meters waves - seamanship!
First, if you are unlucky to collide in severe weather, you heel the ferry on the undamaged side using the trim tanks, so that the car deck on the damaged side becomes high above the waterline - then no or little water can enter there, when it rolls (in any weather). Second you turn the ship, so that the damage is on the lee side! The ship then floats safely on the undamaged side facing the wind! Evidently you ask the passengers to gather on the lower undamaged side facing the wind. If you apply these two or three simple actions, no water enters the car deck in the superstructure of a damaged ferry in severe weather both as per the theoretical rules and the model tests. The damaged ferry floats safely. You do not even have to evacuate the passengers in the very severe weather and you cannot do it, the LSA does not work in such weather!
But this solution was not acceptable by, e.g. the Swedish NMA/Franson. No reason was given.
The real reason for this is simple. The theoretical rules of the Stockholm agreement were manipulated to show that large amounts of water entered the superstructure (above the damaged waterline) through an opening in the side of a damaged ferry under the worst of assumptions - severe weather, big waves, the hole was windward, the ferry rolled deeply into the waves, you were not permitted to heel the ferry a few degrees, so that the car deck became several meters above the damaged water line, etc. Then the only solution - it was stated - was barriers on the car deck, etc. and the rule could be used as propaganda for better safety at sea, which would have prevented the 'Estonia' accident. If the barriers actually helped could not be proven at the time. The rules were so confusingly written, that they could be interpreted in various ways. The rules had nothing to do with reality - who has heard of a passenger ferry colliding in severe weather and then helplessly rolling, until it capsizes with water in the superstructure? It had never happened. And would barriers in the superstructure prevent it? Evidently not.
Why was it not permitted to heel the ferry on the undamaged side to make it safer after an accident? It is international practice always to ballast any damaged ship to make its damage stability better! If the damage is forward/aft, you are permitted to ballast the ship aft/forward, so that the damage forward/aft becomes higher above the water. If the damage is amidships or anywhere and causes unsymmetrical flooding, you are permitted to heel the ship, so that the damaged side becomes higher above the water, etc.
However as the Stockholm agreement was neither realistic (specific, theoretical rules did not agree with model tests or intelligent seamanship and no accident of the suggested type had never occurred) nor had prevented the 'Estonia' accident - the IMO refused to adopt the amendment as international safety standard. The IMO rightly considered the proposal as nonsense - but never said so. It was part of the deal. The result was that North European ferry owners were forced to invest over SEK 2 000 millions in systems, which are not internationally adopted and do not improve safety at sea.
To install worthless doors on the car decks of existing ferries in North Europe became a profitable geschäft for a small number of specialized firms. The Stockholm agreement - like the 'Estonia' investigation - could not be discussed openly. Business as usual!
Today many ferries in the Baltic fitted with the 'Stockholm Agreement Barriers' in the superstructure do not even bother to use them. Port state control does not bother. The 'Stockholm Agreement' comes fully into force September 2002. Actually the older ships built in the 70's can wait until then. Ferries built in the 80' and 90's had to be upgraded earlier. The Swedish NMA has pushed the 'Stockholm Agreement' forcefully at the European Commission and Parliament and suggested that it shall be applied everywhere in the European Union, and the EU seems to listen. Hopefully the real safety at sea experts in the Mediterranean area will inform their EMP's that the 'Stockholm Agreement' is only a useless rule as part of the 'Estonia' accident investigation cover-up!
The boat in figure 3.21.4 above is 11 meters above waterline. All installations look the same on 100's of ferries. In severe weather when the ferry rolls, it is smashed against the side. To recover the boat in sever weather, i.e. to hook on to the crane is impossible. And if you can hook on to the crane, the probability is 100% that the rescue boat is smashed against the side of the rolling ferry and that one rescued person and five crewmembers fall into the sea! The only location where you might be able to launch and recover a fast rescue boat in severe weather (Beaufort 6 and 3 meters waves) is at the stern of a ferry with a very special crane. Strangely enough no such cranes have been fitted.
All the ferries of the world shall according the IMO have a fast rescue boat today. The cost of a new, fast rescue boat including a special crane is about SEK 1 million, to train two crews and two reserve crews - total 20 crew members per ferry - is estimated at SEK 300.000:- . It means that the world ferry fleet shall invest about SEK 650 millions in fast rescue boats 2000. That such a rescue boat could not have saved any person at the 'Estonia' accident is another matter. The boat could neither be launched nor recovered.
The writer has inspected numerous ferries with fast rescue boats and always ask if they have two trained crews aboard and train with the rescue boats. The answer is always NO! The boat is just an expensive decoration ... of no use!
Furthermore it seems that the rule is not applied 100%. All ferries evidently have fast rescue boats but they are located in the side of the ferry and cannot be launched in severe weather - thus exemptions are given (severe weather is so rare that there is no need to apply the requirement that the fast rescue boat shall be able to be launched and recovered in severe weather, etc.).
The IMO stops the Use of Fast Rescue Boats 2001
Fast rescue boats have thus been fitted on all ferries since 2000.
Soon a number of accidents occurred when testing the boats, some accidents were fatal. Seamen were killed.
The accidents were due to the fact that the installations were not proper - it was not possible to launch and retrieve the boats in severe weather - or even fair weather. Or the crews were not properly trained. Every ferry shall have two five-men fast rescue boat crews onboard. These men or women must train regularly - but when do they have time to train on a ferry on a regular schedule? Actually it is very easy on paper - stop the ferry for a few minutes at sea, when the weather is rough, and launch the fast rescue boat - and try to recover it. It should only take 5-10 minutes. However, neither Sweden, Finland nor Estonia has ever requested since 1 July 2000 that launching/recovering of rescue boats on ferries are trained at sea! So much for preventive safety at sea in the Baltic! Maybe they tried and found that they could not recover the boat at all without endangering the life of the seamen/crew on the rescue boat? What do you do then? Abandon the fast rescue boat in the rough waters in the middle of the Baltic? The Swedish, Danish, German, Finnish and Estonian maritime administrations do not like questions like that. So they order their staff to shut up! So much for safety at sea in North Europe. But fast rescue boats shall be used everywhere. Also the USA and Japan do not complain.
In 2001 the IMO issued a recommendation to its members not to include the fast rescue boat in the PSC examinations, i.e. if the crew is trained to handle the boats.
Surprisingly the IMO tells its members not to apply the SOLAS.
Why not amend the rule and remove the rescue boats from all ferries?
Thus it is proven that (a) the rule was stupid in the first place and (b) the fast rescue boat does not contribute to the safety at sea. Sadly the fast rescue boats have already killed crewmembers (and not saved anybody in severe weather).
Two Seaman killed using a fast Rescue Boat
On 6 March 2002 the German frigate 'Meklenburg-Vorpommern' was exercising in the Baltic with the British HMS 'Cumberland' and for unknown reasons the Germans used a fast rescue boat. The weather was not too bad Beaufort 5 (a 30 knots wind), when the fast rescue boat suddenly capsized and two crewmembers fell into the water - and drowned. They were reportedly picked up from the water after 17 minutes but were dead. The German navy did not at first produce any clear explanations what happened - and why. Later they blamed the accident on - faulty life jackets!
It is frankly speaking stupid to use a fast rescue boat in severe weather; the boat crew has to be very well trained to handle it in the first place and it is easy to capsize in severe weather - too much engine power in the small boat. And evidently a ferry crew has never time to practice in severe weather with the rescue boat - they may practice in calm weather and get a worthless certificate to prove that they can use the boat, etc. - to fulfil stupid rules.
The fast rescue boat rule is totally mad. Experience has shown that you cannot even train with the rescue boats at sea in severe weather without endangering lives. The maritime administration surveyor or inspector should of course self attend the exercise on the spot - in the rescue boat - and prove that the rules are followed. But have you ever heard about any such person stating that the rules are mad - dangerous?
The 47th session of the International Maritime Organization's Sub-Committee on Ship Design and Equipment (DE 47) was held in London from 25 February to 5 March 2004, under the Chairmanship of Mr. I. Ponomarev (Russian Federation). One of the items to consider and decide upon was point 7:
REVIEW OF FAST RESCUE BOAT AND MEANS OF RESCUE REQUIREMENTS
7.1 The Sub-Committee had for its consideration under this agenda item documents submitted by Finland (DE 47/7), Sweden (DE 47/INF.4) and ICS (DE 47/7/1).
7.2 The Sub-Committee discussed Finland's opinion that fast rescue boats should not be used as a means of rescue, ICS's analysis of the issues involved and the results of Sweden's study 'Improvement in safety and function of fast rescue operations' and agreed that:
.1 fast rescue boats should not, as a rule, be regarded as means of rescue; and
.2 training with fast rescue boats needed to be enhanced, noting in this connection that the STW Sub-Committee was currently working on the issue.
7.3 Having invited the Committee to note the above conclusions, the Sub-Committee considered that no further work on the item was necessary and agreed to recommend to the Committee the deletion of the item from the work programme.
Thus, the two countries Finland and Sweden that produced the false 'Estonia' report (5) 1997 and earlier, 1995, recommended that all ships should carry fast rescue boats, now suggested, 2004, that fast rescue boats are useless, killing people, and should not be regarded as means of rescue. And the DE Sub-Committee agreed!
Crazy - isn't it? Fast rescue boats are very good means of rescue ... e.g. on fixed offshore platforms and at shore life rescue stations. But on ro-ro passenger ferries fast rescue boats are death traps!
So what will happen now? The DE Sub-Committee deleted the subject from its work programme! Will the IMO Marine Safety Committee now recommend that fast rescue boats shall be removed from all ro-ro passenger ferries, as they are no means of rescue?
Mad Rule Changes
Other totally mad rule changes are described in chapter 5 of (1). No NMA anywhere is however prepared to suggest that the rules are corrected at the IMO. Incompetent bureaucrats run all NMAs.
In conclusion; the ferry industry after the 'Estonia' accident has silently accepted rule changes costing billions of Swedish crowns and which have caused several losses of life.
Furthermore the conclusion is that these enormous investments would not have prevented the 'Estonia' accident and would not contribute to that assisting ferries would have saved more persons.
Even worse - proposals to improve existing equipment which would have, e.g. saved persons in the water at the 'Estonia' accident have been ignored. It is simple to reinforce existing lifeboats (on e.g. Baltic ferries) so that they can be launched (but not recovered) in severe weather and pick up survivors in the water.
It is unbelievable that Swedish decision makers refuse to examine new information about the Estonia accident. There are international IMO resolutions that all new facts shall be reviewed.
Also unbelievable is the silence and passivity of Swedish, Finnish and Estonian ferry companies in this respect. Their passengers would benefit from such a review, which would cost a fraction what the ferry companies have already paid in useless modifications to their ferries.
European safety at sea research continues to concentrate on pseudo matters like survival after ferry collisions in Beaufort 12 with 15 meters waves, which can occupy stupid PhD students and their ivory tower professors and model basins a couple of years. European safety at sea research carefully avoids any analysis of the 'Estonia' accident. Swedish safety at sea research is nil - SEK 50 million is instead used to feed 2000-2005 the participants of the cover up in similar pseudo research by Vinnova. One research project is about fast rescue boats.