Estonia announces tender for geophysical survey of area near ferry Estonia wreck

  • 2022-01-11
  • BNS/TBT Staff

TALLINN – On behalf of the Estonian Safety Investigation Bureau, state-owned energy company Eesti Energia has announced a public procurement for a geophysical survey with a primary focus on delineating magnetic anomalies but also understanding the seabed sediments in the area in the vicinity of the wreck of the ferry Estonia.

The wreck of the ferry Estonia is recognized as a final place of rest for victims of the disaster. The 1995 international agreement regarding MS Estonia aims to protect the site.

After legislative amendments in Sweden and Finland during 2021, the investigation measures taken by the safety investigation authorities in Estonia, Finland and Sweden are in accordance with their respective national laws. National laws of other parties to the international agreement might differ, the technical description of the tender says.

The tenderer is liable for the correspondence of their actions with respect to the fulfilment of the contract with the in-effect legislation in their country of registration and habitat.

The purpose of the survey is to better understand how the sinking of MS Estonia took place

and where objects that relate to the ship occur on the seabed. 

Two modeled tracks for the ship leading up to the moment of its sinking exist right now. The difference between the two tracks is considerable, and one of the tasks of this geophysical

survey is to reduce the associated uncertainties. It is expected that numerous objects entered

the water column from the time the ship started taking on water on its car deck, and these objects should provide the basis for a better reconstruction of the ship's track.

During the original investigation into the wreck in 1994, certain objects were recovered from

the wreck. One of these was a bolt which was thrown back into the sea from the vessel which

acted as the base of operations. A secondary purpose of the geophysical survey is to determine

the location of this bolt. 

The survey is designed to provide information needed for the detection of the upper fragments of three broken deck lugs of the bottom lock of the bow visor; the mapping of items that lie on the seabed in the area the ship traveled through after it started taking on water; the delineation of the path of the ship after it started taking water onboard; the detection of a bolt, thrown overboard during investigations into the wreck in 1994; the detection of objects that previously were lain on the seabed, but which were covered up during the fill-up done in 1994; the locations of the anchoring wires for the geotextiles that were installed in 1996. 

As this is a high-profile case with several interested parties who are eager to be informed of

any relevant findings, the tenderer should expect to send competent senior personnel to

represent their organization at public press conferences where they must describe the content

of the survey operations and results thereof, with specific reference to the interpretation of

acquired data.

There is a potential risk that the survey will image human remains or personal belongings. All

raw data documenting human remains, or personal belongings must be edited out but registered

before the deliverables are released. All raw data documenting human remains, or personal

belongings must be considered as classified information.

The representatives of the contracting authority may determine to add further work based on preliminary offshore site assessments if any areas are interpreted to be particularly interesting with respect to the desired objectives of the contracting authority, or if the planned survey area does not cover the interpreted track of the MS Estonia with a width sufficient to map any objects that may be related to the wreck. The maximum duration of this additional work is seven days.

Pursuant to an order of the government of June 17, 2021, Eesti Energia AS is launching the call for tenders on behalf of the Estonian Safety Investigation Bureau, a structural unit of the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Communications.

Tenders can be submitted until the afternoon of Feb. 18. The contract will be concluded for the period until Jan. 31, 2023.