Saturday, 25 October 2008

"No, there is no boat here." The Sinking of the Ferry ESTONIA.

These are the haunting words uttered by the captain of the Mariella, the lead rescue ship, one of many, who raced to the last reported position of the massive Ferry Estonia, on a cold night on the Baltic in late September of 1994.

MS Estonia, previously MS Viking Sally (1980–1990), MS Silja Star (–1991), and MS Wasa King (–1993), was a cruiseferry built in 1980 at the German shipyard Meyer Werft in Papenburg. The ship sank in the Baltic Sea on September 28, 1994, claiming 852 lives and was one of the deadliest maritime disasters in the late 20th century. Superstitious sailors will tell you that changing the keel name of a ship is an unwise thing to do.

Here's what this beautiful ship looked like in happier times.

The loss of the Estonia was a terrible accident, and one which would have implications for open-bow ferries for the rest of time. The story is best told in moving pictures.

Here is a startling video demonstrating the physics of what happened to the ramp housing of the bow visor of the ESTONIA, the failure of which lead to her sinking.

Unusually, here are the actual recordings of bridge communications between the ESTONIA and the Finnish Coast she was communicating with during her transit of the Baltic on that fateful night. They are chilling.

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