Ex-chief of inquiry committee: Estonia may have sunk after collision with Swedish sub

  • 2020-09-28
  • LETA/BNS/TBT Staff

TALLINN - Margus Kurm, former head of the 1994 Estonia ferry disaster investigation committee, said that the ferry may have sunk after a collision with a Swedish submarine.

According to Kurm, there is a tear in the right side of Estonia, which is 4 meters long and 1.2 meters wide. The tear is located below the waterline, but also extends above the waterline, that is to the car deck.

"This tells me that Estonia collided with something big enough to pierce the hull," Kurm said, speaking on the "Otse Postimehest" ("Live from Postimees") webcast of the daily Postimees. "The force would have been sufficient to create a hole if, for example, a smaller fishing vessel had run against the hull at a speed of four knots."

According to Kurm, this also excludes the possibility that the hull of the ship was hit by the visor detached from the bow of the vessel. "In that case, the visor should have been 20 times larger," Kurm said. "It had to have been a collision with something equal to a ship."

Kurm said that the part of the hull where the tear was discovered has never touched the seabed. Therefore, he said, it is not reasonable to say that the hull of the ship was torn in a collision with the seabed.

According to Kurm, the part of the hull where the tear was discovered was also visible in 1994, when the first dives took place. "There are two possibilities: firstly, that no hull investigation was considered necessary in 1994. Alternatively, the injury was fixed but not reported to the public," he said.

He added that after the disaster, Swedish authorities piled gravel onto the wreck, which helped to hide the damaged side. "It is very likely that what Estonia collided with was, indeed, a submarine," Kurm said.

According to him, it is likely that the vessels were moving in the same direction and it was instead Estonia that grazed the submarine, which also caused the damage. "The question is what this submarine was doing on Estonia's route. During the same period, Swedish military exercises were also taking place in the same area. The second version is that the submarine was securing Estonia because there was a sensitive consignment on board Estonia. I tend to think that the second version is true."

A film crew that made a documentary about the 1994 Estonia ferry disaster for the Discovery television channel while diving near the wreck found a four-meter-long hole in the hull of the ship, which had previously been partially covered by the seabed. Estonia, Finland and Sweden then said that a new investigation, led by Estonia, must be carried out.