Lieutenant Commander (ret.) Brian Braidwood joined the German ‘Group of Experts’ in February 1999 as diving and explosion expert because there were rather strong indications that there might have been explosions in the foreship area and elsewhere onboard the Estonia prior to her sinking.
Lt. Commander Braidwood qualified as a Naval diver in 1957 and spent twenty-five years as an Explosive Ordnance Disposal specialist with the British Navy. This included the Defence of Ships Against Sabotage Attack, three years commanding the Far East Clearance Diving Team, and the Diving School, based in Singapore, responsible for all Diving and Explosive Ordnance Disposal, both operational and training, east of Suez. He also qualified with the Army in the Disposal of Terrorist Devices, commanded the UK Joint Service Explosive Ordnance Disposal School for three years and trained 750 students each year, ranging up to Lieutenant Colonel level, from the UK and overseas.
For the last thirteen years of service he was the Navy’s specialist for new demolition and explosive disposal equipment and techniques, which included testing commercial and military explosives and required a close liaison with many military and civilian organisations throughout the world.
Since he commenced working with us Lt. Commander Braidwood has made himself acquainted with the condition of the wreck and the merits of the case by prolonged watching of video footage, studying drawings and reports as well as long discussions with our expert team, where after he drew up his Investigation Report. – See Chapter 34.7 of our Report. Only thereafter, viz. in August 2000 after completion of the Rabe/Bemis diving expedition, the samples cut off the wreck were brought ashore for examination.
Sample 1 was entrusted to the Material Testing Laboratory (MPA) Brandenburg while sample 2 was handed over to the DN Institute, Clausthal-Zellerfeld (DN), for non destructive examinations.
Several weeks later the MPA Brandenburg presented its first results indicating that the tip of the sample had been affected by detonation. Sample 2 also showed destructions evidently caused by very high deformation velocity, which, however, could not clearly be defined as having been caused by detonation. Subsequently sample 1 was also examined by DN with the same positive results which were subsequently also confirmed by the South Research Institute, San Antonio, Texas/USA.
Brian Braidwood visited the MPA Brandenburg and exchanged views and discussed the examination results and methods used with the responsible persons in this Institute, i.e. Professor Ziegler, Dr. Nega and Dipl. Engineer Mettel. He also met and discussed the findings of the MPA Brandenburg with Martin Volk, the retired explosive expert of the City of Berlin.
Lt Commander Braidwood is working from his home office in Weymouth/UK but was closely informed and received the relevant documentation – translated into English – as soon as received.
His findings in the field of explosives in connection with the ESTONIA were frequently discussed with the also ex-military explosive expert Michael Fellows, who presented a paper at the AgnEf Seminar in Stockholm in May 2000 with the title “A Second Opinion on the Explosion Damage Report on the Car/Passenger Ferry Estonia by Brian Braidwood”. Michael Fellows concluded:
“I agree with Braidwood that on a balance of probabilities:
An explosion caused the damage in the longitudinal bulkhead of the manual lock access space by the Starboard side of the car deck. An explosion also caused the damage extending down the forward bulkhead from the Starboard side locks. An explosion caused the damage to the Starboard side of the bow ramp below the level of “B” deck.”
Lt. Commander Braidwood prepared an “Investigation Report” for us in March 1999 and a “Supplementary Investigation Report” in August 1999 which are attached as Enclosures 34.7.435 and 34.7.435.1 to our Report.
Before this background he was requested to comment on the results achieved by the different institutes after the examination of samples 1 and 2, which he did as follows: