Building contract and specification
The vessel was built as a lengthened sister vessel of DIANA II on the basis of a specification dated 5 September 1979 (Enclosure 22.214.171.124) with General Arrangement Drawing No. 5675/79 (Enclosure 126.96.36.199) attached thereto, both of which had been developed in close co-operation between AB Sally, Mariehamn and Meyer Werft. Specification and General Arrangement Plan No. 5675/79 were finally made part of the building contract signed on 11 September 1979 by the owners and the Yard (Enclosure 188.8.131.52).
As the Building Contract required the Yard to build the vessel in conformity with the requirements of SOLAS 1974 the initial set of drawings contained a "partial collision door" (upper extension of the collision bulkhead above bulkhead deck = car deck) at a location according to those requirements. Reference is made to part of a drawing dated 20.12.79 with the edges marked yellow at both longitudinal bulkheads where the "partial collision door" was planned to fit in at frame 150 - see Enclosure 184.108.40.206). Part of the General Arrangement Plan - attached as Enclosure 220.127.116.11 - shows what was actually built for the following reasons:
Already during the negotiations of the building contract agreement was reached concerning the function and location of the bow ramp. This is revealed in a telex sent on 30.08.79 by Peter Motikat of Meyer Werft to Alf Johansson of AB Sally - attached as Enclosure 18.104.22.168 - where it is stated under item 6:
»6. Bow and stern ramp arrangements according to DIANA II.«
Peter Motikat was negotiating the building contract on behalf of Meyer Werft, whilst Alf Johansson was negotiating on behalf of AB Sally, then owned by the Johansson family.
As it was the intention to build the foreship of both vessels identically the location of the bow ramp and its relevance as upper extension of the collision bulkhead above bulkhead deck was consequently therewith established. This is revealed also from item 3123 of the specification, where it is stated:
»Bow Ramp One watertight bow ramp with longitudinal stiffeners arranged to give a free opening of 5.5 m width and 5.0 m height. In lowered position, the bow ramp to reach minimum 1.5 m forward of bulbous bow's front. At the end of the ramp hinged flaps to be arranged. The bow ramp cannot be operated if the bow door is not in open position.«
Also during the negotiations with these owners the upper extension of the collision bulkhead above bulkhead deck had been discussed. The yard management knew from the simultaneous negotiations concerning the conversion of VIKING 4 into EARL GRANVILLE (Enclosure 22.214.171.124) that the English Maritime Authorities, DOT = Department of Trade, as well as Lloyd's Register demanded the installation of the upper extension of the collision bulkhead at the location required by SOLAS 1974 before the vessel was permitted to operate under English flag. During the conversion the upper extension was installed as "partial collision door" at the location required. Consequently Mr. Motikat informed Alf Johansson accordingly offering the installation of a similar "partial collision door" on VIKING SALLY and, as a matter of fact, the installation was included in the original quotation. Alf Johansson, however, stated to have the agreement of F.B.N. to comply also in the case of VIKING SALLY again with the 'General Scandinavian Practice', i.e. bow ramp = upper extension of collision bulkhead and no separate "partial collision door" required. Mr. Motikat insisted on having this agreement entered into the building specification, where it can be found under item 3123:
»Partial Collision Door For the intended service not required by F.B.N.«
This 'Group of Experts' is therefore convinced that it had been the wish of owners, and was approved by the Classification Society as well as by the National Shipping Administration, F.B.N., already during the planning stage of the newbuilding that the bow ramp should act as upper extension of the collision bulkhead above bulkhead deck, although its location did not comply with the respective requirements of SOLAS 1974.
In this connection attention is drawn to the fact that the installation of a "partial collision door" had been included in the initial quotation with DM 45.000,--. This amount was subsequently credited to the owners as revealed by an entry in the 'More/Less' list of project manager H.Wahnes (see Enclosure 126.96.36.199).
In the 'More/Less' list all items differing from the quotation are listed for final discussion with the owners.
Since the position of the bow ramp of ESTONIA did not satisfy the SOLAS requirements for an upper extension of the collision bulkhead an exemption certificate should have been issued on the condition that the vessel in the course of its voyages did not proceed more than 20 nautical miles from the nearest land. This was the intention when the ferry was built and actually she sailed in "sheltered waters" with certainty for the first 101/2 years of her life. According to Germanischer Lloyd it was common practice in the early 1980's not to issue exemption certificates, but a respective remark was made in the PSSC. It was said to be only in 1985/86 that IMO required the issuance of exemption certificates in case the National Maritime Administration made use of the right given to them by Rule 1(c) respectively Regulation 1.4 preceding each SOLAS chapter, viz. to exempt owners from compulsory obligations in case the vessel did not proceed more than 20 nm from the nearest land in the course of her voyage, i.e. remained in "sheltered waters". Consequently from the point of view of the newbuilding yard, nothing more could be done.
This 'Group of Experts' has also investigated the reasons why the location of the wheelhouse on VIKING SALLY is different in comparison to DIANA II. The General Arrangement Plan No. 5675/79 dated 05.09.79, and being part of the building contract, still shows the wheelhouse in the same location as on DIANA II, i.e. above the front of the superstructures. In the specification - also being part of the building contract, however it is already stated on page 4-16 under item 4513 - Wheelhouse and Chartroom - inter alia:
»Yard investigates to arrange wheelhouse 11 m to stern.« Owners had thus already at an early stage considered having the bridge installed somewhat further aft. According to Mr. Bernard Meyer this, as well as the altered shape of the funnel, is to be attributed to the proposal of a Finnish architect who wanted to give the vessel a better silhouette with these changes. Against additional costs, Meyer Werft carried out both changes according to the wishes of the owners and with the approval of the class and the F.B.N.
Due to the new location of the bridge it was no more possible to see the forecastle deck, i.e. the bow visor from the middle of the wheelhouse, the command centre of the vessel. Therefore at both sides in way of the connection between wheelhouse and closed wings one window was installed just above the floor of the wheelhouse. Through these windows the forward part of the visor was visible. In addition, at the top of the visor a flag pole was installed with a blue light fitted on top which was shining aft only. This flag pole with the blue light also acted as a steering aid for pilot, watch officer and helmsman. This installation cannot be found in the specification of the building contract as the decision to move the location of the bridge aft was made only after signing of the contract.
Due to the presence of the flag pole with aft-shining blue light on top, up-and-down movements of the visor would have been very well visible from the bridge in the darkness unless the light was defect. - See page 110. Upon inspection of the visor in Hangö the flag pole was found broken from the visor, but it is still connected to the visor by means of the cable and is hanging below its initial position underneath the visor. (Visor is resting on steel blocks in upside down position.)
The change of the bridge location was approved by the Classification Society as well as by the F.B.N., as can be seen from part of the drawing 1116 "Arrangement of Top Lanterns" - Enclosure 188.8.131.52 - which was approved by Sjöfartsstyrelsen (F.B.N.) on 09.01.80.