About us


Contact info


Order books

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

'I will never accept that no reasonable explanation of the accident was ever given. Or that no investigator ever asked us survivors, what we experienced at the disaster. Or all mistakes made all these years after the accident. I will never accept that a new investigation is not done'

Kent Härstedt, survivor and Swedish MP (s), 990927 (in Swedish daily Aftonbladet) 

'The lying. A river of lies. Translating the truth into a lie. Translating one lie into another lie. The competence people display in their lying. The skill. Carefully sizing up the situation and then, with a calm voice and straight face, delivering the most productive lie. Should they speak even the partial truth, nine times out of ten it's on behalf of a lie'

Philip Roth in 'I Married A Communist', 1998

'We cannot establish the truth, instead we can establish clarifications, better structure of the available information. The truth of past times is always difficult to establish and it requires that you have complete background information about all matters and such complete information does not exist'.

Björn Körlof, director general of the Swedish Board of Psychological Defence, 010423 (in Swedish Radio) after having been ordered by the Swedish government (sic) to create a 'fact bank' of 'Estonia' information not included in the Final report (5) 

Part 4. The 'Estonia' in the Future - 1999-2001. Conspiracy?

4.1 Explosive Devices on the 'Estonia' and why

During 1998/9 information was published in the media that explosive devices had contributed to the sinking of the 'Estonia'. Strange boxes and parcels and unexplained damages had been seen on the newly released video films, which the Commission had not explained in (5). Had they contributed to the sinking? That question was asked. But if they had contributed to the removal of the visor after the accident, below water, was not considered.

The Finnish chief investigator Lehtola told Norwegian media in August 1999 that the question was a trick by the German lawyers.142 No consideration was evidently given to the possibility that the explosive devices had been applied by Swedish divers after the accident on 30 September or early October 1994 to remove the visor and to open the ramp to support the fantastic story that water inside the superstructure had caused the accident 1.16. It was too early for such ideas. The Finnish delegation then issued on 24 September 1999 an official memorandum (27) in English at a press conference at Tallinn, which stated that all information about bombs and explosive devices were wrong. The casualty investigation was de-facto partly re-opened. One interesting thing is not the information that there were no bombs, but the Finns used new facts, arguments and information that had never been published before. The memo follows below:




During the last year, European media has presented suggestions that bombs would have been placed onboard the ESTONIA before her capsizing and sinking on September 28 1994. The Swedish TV-4 reported in a program on August 10 1999 that the German Expert Group investigating the accident on behalf of the German Jos. L. Meyer shipyard, builders of the ESTONIA, is going to tell that a bomb has been found in the ESTONIA's hull in a report to be published in September. TV-4 also showed a picture of the alleged bomb.

Already earlier in December 1998 the Swedish Aftonbladet published news that there is an object suspected to be a bomb above a window on the ESTONIA's side.

Suspected orange coloured object in the ESTONIA's ramp opening

The Swedish TV-4 showed on August 10 1999 also a picture of an object that is claimed to be a bomb. The picture was taken from a videotape showing the ESTONIA's wreck. The videotape had been made by the Finnish Coast Guard for the Joint Accident Investigation Commission (JAIC). In the videotape picture, the object claimed to be a bomb has an orange colour. The object is later called a "box". The box is visible in frames taken on October 9 1994 at 2316 hrs. Appendix 1 shows a video print where the object can be seen.

The Finnish delegation of the JAIC has been studying the videotapes in order to find out what the box in question could be. The following conclusions can be made on the basis of the video material:

"At the moment in question, the ROV (Remotely Operated Vehicle) used in making the underwater videotapes, is monitoring the space between the vessel hull and the partly open bow ramp on the port side. The visor and ramp side locks were close to this site. The vessel's mooring lines can be seen near the box on its both sides going into the ramp opening. On the basis of the visible mooring lines and shadows, the box is not fastened onto the vessel's hull or to the ramp. Because the diameter of a standard mooring line is a little under 10 cm, the dimensions of the box may be estimated by comparing the box to a line. Appendix 2 shows a video print where objects near the box have been made clearer. Names of the objects have been marked.

"When the ESTONIA sank stern first, the air remaining in the car deck space flowed out through the partly open ramp sides. At the same time, loose floating objects on the car deck, like mattress overlays and wooden pallets, drifted with the rising water towards the openings at the ramp sides. Some objects came out while some remained trapped at the sides.

"It is known on the basis of the videotapes that pallets floated up towards the bow on the car deck.. During the diving operation carried out by divers of the Norwegian Rockwater A/S in December 1994, pallets had to be moved aside to allow the free movement of divers.

"After the accident a pallet was observed in a service space on the side of the ramp. It can be seen on a videotape made by the Finnish Coast Guard during the ROV inspection on October 2 1994 at 1433 hrs. In the picture this pallet is upside down and most clearly can be seen the central bottom board with blocks. The side bottom board and the blocks are missing. A video print of this pallet is in Appendix 3.

"When the size of the "box" is being estimated on the basis of a mooring line's diameter, the "box" size agrees well with size of a pallet's block. Above the "box" is a protruding part the shape and dimensions of which closely resemble a bottom board fastened to a block. The protruding part is not rectangular, which means that the board may have been twisted. It can however be understood that when a pallet breaks, joints may become dislocated. According to the video print the board would extend both at the end and at the side over the edges of the block. This feature however exists in pallets; for instance the edge of the central bottom board in the pallet in Appendix 3 extends over the block edge.

"The surface of the "box" is not smooth but it looks like uneven, rough. Also colour variations can be seen in the surface.

"The head of the Finnish Coast Guard ROV inspection group has stated that in 1994 when the ROV and video technologies were not on the present level, videotapes made underwater using artificial lighting easily received wrong tones of colour. If reflecting red surfaces were near, the objects in the picture could easily receive a shade of red. It is fully possible that for instance a new wood surface looks reddish under these conditions. The considerations presented above strongly support the assumption that the "box" is part of a broken pallet of which can be seen one block and a bottom board fastened to it. The surface of the "box" looks like wooden. The uncontroversial position of the "box" in the ramp opening closes out the theory presented in the media that it would be an object attached to the hull by a magnetic fastening device. No indications of objects involved in explosive technology have been observed in the neighbourhood of the "box".

The object suggested to be a bomb that was found on the ESTONIA's side above a window

The Swedish Aftonbladet published in December news that there is an object that is suspected to be a bomb on the ESTONIA's side on the lower edge of a window.

A picture of the object suggested to be a bomb is on a videotape made by the Norwegian Rockwater A/S on December 3 1994 at 1832 hrs to 1833 hrs. At that time Rockwater was video inspecting the ESTONIA's wreck for the Swedish Government and the Joint Accident Investigation Commission. The window, on the lower edge of which the object is lying, is the ninth window from the bow on the level of deck 6. Appendix 4 shows a video print of this object suggested to be a bomb. The Finnish group of JAIC has also tried to find out what the object in question could be. Studies of the videotapes show that the object could not have been in its place immediately after the accident on October 2 1994. The Finnish Coast Guard made that day a videotape showing the same site of the wreck and the object in question cannot be seen on the videotape.

The Finnish group of JAIC has asked both from the Rockwater personnel who participated in the diving operation and seamen who have worked on the ESTONIA when she was sailing under the Finnish flag under a different name, if they have any recollections whether the object in question could be an object which was used during the diving operation or on board in service. No one has been able to give any clarifying information.

The Finnish group's assumption is that the object in question may be a folded light plastic cover - a tarpaulin - which for some reason could have drifted with currents above the window in question. During the accident it could not have been at the same site as on December 3 1994.

Concluding remark

Conclusions presented in the JAIC's Final Report are still fully valid and in our opinion an explosion as a possible cause or contributing factor in the accident is totally closed out.

Above mentioned pictures are available on the Finnish Accident Investigation web site.

The memo thus states the following -

"When the ESTONIA sank stern first, the air remaining in the car deck space flowed out through the partly open ramp sides. At the same time, loose floating objects on the car deck, like mattress overlays and wooden pallets, drifted with the rising water towards the openings at the ramp sides. Some objects came out while some remained trapped at the sides".

It must be recalled that the Commission first - on 4 October 1994 - stated that the 'Estonia' sank due to water penetrating into a 'partly open ramp' 1.14, i.e. the ramp was never fully open in that version of the casualty. Then - on 15 December 1994 - the Commission stated that the ramp had been locked prior to the accident and that the visor had 'pulled the ramp fully open' permitting large amounts of water to enter 1.17 and that later, not fully explained, the ramp had closed itself to the partly open position, when the ship sank as observed down at the wreck.

We are thus now told that the ramp must have been in a partly open or partly closed position, when the ship sank. It must further be recalled that there are two times for the 'sinking'. The Commission says the ship sank at around 01.52 hrs after having drifted >2 000 meters and that it then had >110 degrees list and thus that the lose ramp must then have been closed. The writer evidently thinks that the bow came under water already at 01.36 hrs, when Linde, inside a life raft launched from the sinking ship with Sillaste and Kadak, saw the ramp closed, 1.8 and 1.48.

The Finns thus suggest - there is no evidence - that 'some objects came out' from the car deck through the partly open ramp, when the ship sank. What objects floated out are not stated and are of little importance, except that it would have been interesting to know why some - small? - objects floated out and some were trapped.

Then it is suggested that some objects 'remained trapped at the sides'. The 'sides' mean here apparently the lower corner of the deck 2 horizontal side and the port side against the vertical ramp frame, which allegedly formed the upper corner of the ramp opening, when the ship sank. All the floating objects that were trapped should have ended up there. The Commission has evidently never commented upon the facts showing that the ramp was never fully open at all during the sinking, 3.10 and 3.11. Nevertheless - here we are told that a pallet board was not trapped inside the ramp but stuck between the ramp and the frame with a wooden box-shaped piece on the outside at about the middle height of the ramp. Sounds convincing?

A false Position of the Visor advised

When you read the above memorandum the following should be clear 1.14:

The statement is done by (i) Mr Kari Lehtola, who already in October 1994 told the media a false position of the wreck and that they had filmed a big 'steel plate' on the bottom, etc. and (ii) Mr Tuomo Karppinen, who twice filmed the 'Estonia' 2 and 9 October 1994 and informed that the 'Estonia' was undamaged except for the alleged lost visor - the area with the exploded hole in the picture right was undamaged according to Karppinen - and who together with Börje Stenström on 10-11 October 1994 saw films of the visor at least one week before it was officially found, and by (iii) admiral Heimo Iivonen, who arranged that the Utö plot disappeared, etc. These three (or four) persons cannot be trusted by the public.

Evidently European media has never stated that the alleged explosive devices had been placed on the 'Estonia' 'before' the ship suddenly listed.

The media has stated that observers of films taken after the accident under water by the Commission show something on (a) the deck house and (b) the superstructure front, which looks like explosive devices. The same observers had also noted damages of the bow steel structure of the superstructure - not the big hole in the starboard front bulkhead above that was filmed later - that could have been caused by explosive devices, which Lehtola & Co. did not mention.

The orange coloured object or 'box' can be seen on a film of the superstructure port front bulkhead taken on 9 October 1994 by an ROV from the 'Tursas', where Karppinen was. The same area was filmed already on 2 October 1994 1.4 and then the 'box' was not there. Strange!? Not if Swedish divers had been visiting the area in the meantime 1.3.

Visor and Ramp filmed on 9 October

On 10 October Karppinen told Stenström that they had filmed the visor and the ramp, etc. even if the visor was then still not located (1 560 meters from the wreck). It is probable that five Swedish divers 1.16 had visited the wreck just before the 9 October. We do not know why and when these divers visited the wreck or what they did, but we know that the Commission had found the wreck with aid of sonar already on 30 September and that the wreck - and apparently the visor - had been filmed for the first time on 2 October by an ROV 1.4. The Commission had however on 4 October stated to the media that the visor had been lost (at 01.15 hrs) 38 minutes before the 'Estonia' sank (at 01.53 hrs), i.e. it was not possible to locate the visor beside the wreck. The ship had turned 180° and drifted a long distance since losing the visor, the public was told.

The wreck was found on 30 September 1994 with about 120 degrees list on the bottom and we have to assume that the lose visor was hanging from the forward weather deck 4 still attached by the starboard lifting hydraulics. The Commission could see this on the sonar pictures 1.4 and it was probably confirmed by the video filming on 2 October. The visor bottom lock was never locked but already damaged before the accident 3.7, and, when the ship sank, the port side lock had been ripped off, but the visor was still hanging from the wreck by the starboard lifting hydraulics and side lock - the starboard weather deck was otherwise visible and undamaged and the visor was hanging below the bow. For unknown reasons this could not be announced.

The Finns also filmed the port weather deck on top of the superstructure on 2 October 3.10 and you get the impression that the port lifting hydraulics had ripped open the weather deck, but the quality of the video film pictures is very bad and the official statements are very confusing - we are only shown close-up pictures of the port side taken about 30 cms from the wreck. No alleged damages from the starboard side are shown from the video pictures of the 2 October 1994 in e.g. (5). And no orange object or 'box' was filmed on the port side on 2 October! When the wreck was officially inspected by divers on 2-4 December 1994 no more clear or descriptive pictures or photos were taken of the alleged damages. It was still maintained that the exploded hole did not exist. It was not discovered until August 2000.

The Visor was removed under Water

The job of the Swedish divers 1 and 3-4 0ctober 1994 was probably simply to ensure that the visor got lose and could fall to the bottom below the wreck 1.3. The divers had maybe no idea that they were part of a cover-up. They were probably told that the work was necessary to investigate the wreck. Then the Commission could, by further manipulations of the alleged positions of the wreck and the visor and edited video films, create the impression that the visor had fallen off somewhere else. By announcing a false wreck position Lehtola diverted all ships at the wreck 2 111 meters to NE and then the Swedish divers could detach the visor and pull apart the visor hinges on the wreck in peace and quiet - and try to open the ramp. Then a week later it was time to film the visor below the bow on 9 October - without showing the wreck and the exploded hole that part was cut away from the films - which was discussed by Karppinen and Stenström at Nantali on 11 October 1.14. On the 18 October 1994 it was then time to announce that the visor had been found 'a mile West of the wreck'. The ship 'Tursas' that allegedly located the visor was probably not at sea at the time.

The writer is trying to find a logical pattern in all confusing information (lies) stated by the Commission in October 1994 as presented in Part 1. If the 'Estonia' had really sunk due to the visor falling off, was it really necessary to announce a false wreck position and later to present edited ROV-films of the outside of the wreck?

By applying small, explosive devices on the fore part of the superstructure - in this case the ramp frame - the Swedish divers tried to make a pressure wave that was going to lose the hanging visor from the wreck. The orange 'box' on the 'Estonia' filmed on 9 October should then simply have been an explosive device that was forgotten by error down on the wreck. The job had succeeded - the visor was detached from the wreck - even if they had forgotten one explosive device.

But the divers had caused more damage than necessary - they had apparently blown a big opening in the starboard front bulkhead of the superstructure just above the side lock 3.10! That damage had to be hidden by editing the films taken already in October 1994 and later in December 1994 and the summer 1996. The Germans and other independent observers have since found other damages at the forward end of the superstructure - it seems that the divers also tried to blow open the ramp down at the wreck - the orange 'box' could have been applied with that in mind. It would indicate that the divers visited the wreck as early as 3-5 October 1994 - later the weather was getting worse.

It was probably five Swedish divers that made the job to remove the visor and the writer assumes that they used Swedish military standard equipment used by navy divers to remove and destroy enemy mines.

The former Swedish head of the 'Estonia' investigation, Olof Forssberg, was previously legal head of the Swedish ministry of Defence. The chief Swedish technical investigator, Börje Stenström, was a navy commander (engineering). It was thus simple for these two persons to call up their friends at the Swedish navy (admiral Frank Rosenius) to order some navy divers (e.g. Håkan Bergmark) to remove the visor by explosives. It should have taken place 2-9 - probably 3-5 - October 1994. Had it been detected by anybody on a passing ship, it was easy to explain that also Swedish divers were having a look at the wreck.

It is very easy to verify the above - what does Swedish navy underwater explosives look like, which are used to remove underwater mines - like the orange 'box'? And where was Swedish warship the HMS Furusund at the time and who were onboard? The Swedish Navy refuses to publish the logbooks and the crew lists even if they are official documents.

The second filming by the Finns of the wreck with an ROV on 9 October 1994 was then necessary to confirm the result of the work of the Swedish divers - that the visor was removed. Mr Karppinen was on board the 'Tursas' to ensure that all was done correctly 1.14, which he then reported to Stenström.

There is no other logical explanation why the Finns filmed the wreck twice - first on 2 October, when the visor still hanged from the bow, then on 9 October 1994, when the visor had fallen to the bottom. According to the very unclear and edited films available today they were filming many things twice - and many areas not at all including the exploded hole. And no area where the visor was hanging on 2 October is shown on that film - all is edited away!

The Estonian's were probably not aware of the above manipulations. They were happily instructing their crewmembers to blame the accident on the visor and must have been pleasantly surprised that the visor was later found 'a mile West of the wreck', etc.

Explosives when the 'Estonia' was floating could not have caused the Sinking

It was and is evidently inconceivable that one or more small explosive devices between the ramp and the visor could have sunk the 'Estonia', which the Germans - and other conspiracy theory supporters - believe 3.18 and that it would have taken place, when the ship was still afloat. An explosion in that space, before the ship sank, would only have pushed the ramp tighter towards the frame and made it tighter! The visor may have ended up anywhere - it could have swung up around its very strong hinges and have smashed the aft end of the fore weather deck from above.

There are no pictures available of the upper foredeck of the superstructure, where there is a small port radar mast, etc. The only reasonable explanation is that small explosive devices (Swedish made?) were applied to the forward part of the superstructure under water after the accident to remove the visor in order to support the false allegations made by the Commission on 4 October 1994 that the visor had been lost 'under way'.

The 'Parcel'

The parcel on the port upper side of the deck house of the wreck as she lies is another story. As seen in figures in 1.16 the port side is at about 60 meters depth. The parcel was filmed by an ROV on 3 December (the Franson dive). It was a completely unnecessary filming - everybody knew that the port side was completely undamaged and totally uninteresting from salvage aspect - but still they filmed there; maybe they had to produce a certain amount of film as per contract. If additional underwater activities had taken place between 10 October and 2 December 1994, it should have been on the lower starboard side forward on 83 meters depth.

Anyway - in 1999 the three Finns suggested that a mysterious orange 'box' seen on a video film of the forward part of the superstructure was a piece of wood from a pallet. The writer took the opportunity to ask the Finns some more questions - see next chapter (the writer was then still unaware of the picture of the exploded hole - it was not filmed until August 2000).


142 Eksperter avviser "Estonia"-bombe. Påstander om at bilferja "Estonia" sank på grunn av en bombe om bord, ble i dag kontant avvist av lederen for den internasjonale havarikommisjonen, Kari Lehtola. (Onsdag 11. august 1999 14:13). Lehtona understreker at baugvisiret ble reddet opp fra sjøen og ligger lagret i Hangö. Det fins ingen tegn på endringer i metallet som følge av eksplosjon. - Vi ville være sikre og tok mengder av prøver fra innsiden av visiret. Politiet har analysert dem og konstatert at det ikke fins spor av kjente sprengstoff, sa Lehtola. Han legger til at bombeteorien ikke er noe nytt for havarikommisjonen. Kort etter katastrofen begynte den å dukke opp, spesielt i Tyskland der båten ble bygd, og i Estland. Lehtola sier at han kjenner godt til Werner Hummel, som kom med de siste påstandene på svensk fjernsyn. Han er sjøkaptein og en respektert ekspert, men Lehtola gir likevel ikke mye for hans teori. Lehtola sier at baugvisirets fester ble slitt i stykker av bølgene, visiret løsnet og dro med seg rampen. Dermed kom store mengder vann inn i båten og forårsaket slagside. Det trengtes ingen sprenglegemer for å senke båten. Lehtola sa han har en klar teori om hvorfor Hummel kommer med påstandene. Han arbeider for advokatfirmaet til familien som eier verftet som bygde "Estonia". Meyerverftet har selv aldri kommet med noen erklæring etter havariet, og alt har gått via advokatfirmaet. (NTB)

To 4.2 Back to index