The report by a consortium including SSPA, a ship design consultancy, will conclude the disaster was caused by the loss of the ship’s bow visor, and nothing else.
The Swedish government commissioned two parallel reports in 2005 into the sinking of the Estonia. As well as the SSPA consortium, another report was commissioned from a consortium of German researchers.
The SSPA consortium has a few tests left to conduct before the final report can be handed to the government next March, but certain key facts have already been established, according to nautical periodical Nautisk Tidskrift. The conclusions are similar to those reached by the original official investigation into the accident, it says.
The biggest difference between the new report and the earlier findingsie that the SSPA consortium points to the Estonia’s speed as a factor in the sinking. The SSPA has also concluded that the ship began to sink at 1am, ten minutes earlier than in the earlier report.
“Ten minutes might not sound like a long time, but in contexts like this it is a lot,” said Claes Källström, head of research at SSPA.
The consortium says there is no doubt that the bow visor played a major role in the sinking.
“All indications are that things happened as described in the final report: the bow visor fell off and the ramp opened, leaving it completely open, at least for a time. When enough water had entered the car deck, the vessel tilted to one side,” said Källström.
The official explanations for the ferry sinking have been rejected by sceptics, and theories that the ship was sunk by an explosion caused by a secret cargo of military equipment have refused to die.