TALLINN – The Estonian Safety Investigation Bureau on Monday started 3D laser scanning of the wreck of the ferry Estonia that sank in the Baltic Sea while en route from Tallinn to Stockholm on Sept. 28, 1994.
The purpose of the 3D laser scanning is to make a point cloud of the wreck of the ferry Estonia and its immediate surroundings, with the help of which a 3D model of the wreck will be created later. In addition to surveying the wreck and surrounding sea bottom, high-tech equipment will be used to explore the interior of the car deck of the sunken ferry.
Officials at the Safety Investigation Bureau told BNS on Monday that the Dutch-flagged research vessel VOS Sweet arrived at the site of the Estonia's sinking on Monday morning and that as the first thing, the equipment will be tested and calibrated. During the surveying at sea, work will be done 24 hours a day.
"The first task is to conduct surveys of the vehicle deck in order to get as detailed an overview as possible of the condition of the vehicle deck and the objects there. The study of the vehicle deck is technically very complicated. The aim is to get the best possible idea of the situation of the vehicle deck, including deformations as well as openings, such as doors, ventilation openings, engine room hatches and so on, and to determine whether they are closed or open," Rene Arikas, the director of the Safety Investigation Bureau, said.
Arikas said that as the next thing, the wreck and the seabed will be surveyed, which includes a precision scan of the wreck.
Third, high-priority areas where external damage to the wreck has been identified in previous investigations -- the bow part, including the ramp, the ramp opening, locks and hinges; damage to the starboard side and to the stern and the port side at the level of the sixth deck -- will be further explored," Arikas said.
"Areas of high importance also include areas of the seabed where the focus will be primarily on the line of contact between the wreck and the seabed and its immediate surroundings," he added.
A fourth portion of laser scanning will be carried out additionally if, based on preliminary assessments carried out at sea, an area on or around the wreck proves to be of particular interest, Arikas explained.
To conduct the 3D laser scanning surveys of the wreck of MS Estonia, the Safety Investigation Bureau organized a public procurement, which was won by a consortium consisting of ESC Risk Management OU and Baltic Taucherei- und Bergungsbetrieb Rostock Gmbh as the main contractors and Kraken Robotics will deliver the 3D laser scanner service.
The survey team is an international one, made up of experts from Estonia, Sweden, Germany, and Poland. The 3D laser scanning will take 4-5 days, depending on weather conditions and underwater visibility.