Survey team recovers bow door of sunken ferry Estonia

Survey team recovers bow door of sunken ferry Estonia

Rendering of Estonia's wreckage at the bottom of the Baltic Sea based on photogrammetric data (Photo: Stockholm University)

The bow door of the ill-fated Ro-Pax ferry Estonia, which was lost in the Baltic Sea in one of history’s deadliest peacetime maritime disasters, has been recovered from the seabed off Finland by an international survey team.

The recovery of the bow door was completed on Tuesday, July 25. The marine works were carried out by a team formed by the Swedish Accident Investigation Authority (Statens Haverikommission; SHK), the Estonian Safety Investigation Bureau (Ohutusjuurdluse Keskus; OJK), representatives of the Finnish government, and Norwegian offshore services company Reach Subsea, which is also the main contractor.

Personnel from the Estonian and Swedish safety investigation authorities were on board during the surveys. Also, two representatives of the survivors of the accident were present at the marine surveys – Ants Madar from Estonia and Urban Lambertson from Sweden.

The bow door will then be brought to Paldiski South Harbour, Estonia.

During the week of marine works, bedrock and fouling samples were acquired from near the hole in the starboard side of the hull. Cut-out pieces of the port side plating, which were cut out by divers in 1994 in order to examine the interior of the wreck, were recovered.

The OJK said it was also possible to cut out and recover a steel sample from the damage of the starboard side and recover parts of a cabin window glass and seal. The car deck, including the visor and ramp control panel, located next to the car deck entrance, were inspected with a remotely operated vehicle (ROV).

The hole of the starboard side was filmed with the ROV from outside the hull as well as from inside through the car deck.

The bow door will at first be stored in a warehouse owned by a private company. In the future, the Estonian Ministry of Economy and Communications will find a suitable permanent location for the door.

The recovery of Estonia‘s bow door was undertaken as part of an investigation into the loss of the ferry along with 800 of its passengers and crew near Uto Island in Finland on September 28, 1994. The vessel’s sinking has been described as one of the deadliest maritime incidents of the late 20th century.

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