Summary of testimonies by watch A.B. Silver Linde


He is the only survivor of those having been on duty on the bridge. His main task was to go security rounds through out the vessel from deck 8 down to deck 0 via three check points on the car deck. One round, which he normally commenced 30 minutes after the full hour, took between 25 and 30 minutes. He carried a walkie-talkie with him.

Of Silver Linde the following statements are available:

- on 29.09.94 in Turku - Enclosure
- on 03.10.94 in Tallinn - Enclosure
- on 17.10.94 in Tallinn - Enclosure
- on 17.11.94 in Tallinn - Enclosure
- on 03.12.94 in Tartu - Enclosure
- on 11.03.95 in Helsinki - Enclosure
- on 31.03.95 at Landvetter Airport - Enclosure
- on 25.01.96 in Tallinn - Enclosure

It was initially the intention of this 'Group of Experts' to ignore the different statements made by Silver Linde completely because his "evidence" had obviously been influenced by his ESCO superiors, in particular by Enn Neidre, the head of the Navigation Department of ESCO and safety adviser of Estline and simultaneously member of the Estonian part of the JAIC until April 1996, whereafter he remained to be an expert to JAIC. An example of this is Silver Linde's interview by the JAIC at the so-called "Landvetter meeting" on 31 March 1995, which Enn Neidre, in spite of strong objections by the Swedes and Finns, had insisted on attending by pointing to his membership in the Estonian part of JAIC. He actually attended in a blue captain's uniform, which he had never done before and never did thereafter.

The questions/answers below stated are quoted from the protocol of the meeting.

Commission: "Please tell us about your last round."

Silver Linde: "I came down to the car deck in the middle, went aft at first, turned the key, walked forward towards the ramp, a couple of meters away from the bow ramp heard strong crashing noise, I told the bridge by walkie-talkie about the noise and got the order to remain and check what it is all about. I stayed there for 5 minutes and controlled in the vicinity, what I could see. After that I opened the doors in front of the panel and all lights were green. I asked for permission from the bridge to go on with my round, which was granted."

Note: According to normal procedure this should have been around 00.45-00.50 hours, i.e. at the time when Kadak was in the ECR and saw water penetrating the bow ramp. The communication between Silver Linde/bridge via walkie-talkie should have been overheard by the watch engineer Treu, who has not stated anything in this respect in any of his 12 known statements and interviews. What he stated, however, in all but two of these twelve statements/interviews is that he heard Silver Linde report to the bridge that there was water on car deck. Safety officer Ervin Roden also overheard the walkie-talkie communication between Silver Linde and the bridge. Ervin Roden had been sleeping in his cabin with the walkie-talkie on when he suddenly heard Silver Linde shouting to the bridge that there was quite a lot of water on the car deck and that they had to abandon the vessel. (See the memos made by Tuomo Karppinen attached as Enclosure 21.1.248 and the statement of Paula Liikamaa - Enclosure In the spring of 1997 Ervin Roden admitted to the Estonian journalist Heikki Tann that the above is correct.

Parts of the protocol of the "Landvetter" meeting on 31 March 1995 follow below:

Commission: "We are showing you a drawing of the control panel with the lamps. Do you know these lamps? Can you please tell us, what is what? Do you remember?"

Remark: Silver Linde suddenly becomes very irritated and refuses to look at the drawing.

Silver Linde: "I don't remember. Yes, there was some (någon) red. But this was a long time ago. I don't remember if the red one was in the lower or upper row. I have since been on 2 ships and it is hard to remember. The indicator lights of visor and bow ramp were green."

Commission: "Where was the red lamp?"

Silver Linde: (looking at Neidre) "If the lamp had been red, then something would have been wrong. So all the lamps were green."

Commission: (pointing to the protocol) "But you told us a minute before that the lamps ..... "

Neidre: "He just said that all lamps were green."

Commission: (pointing again to the protocol) "But he says here that he saw one red lamp?"

Silver Linde: "There was no red lamp."

Commission: "O.K."

Note: Actually there had to be one red lamp, because at sea the harbour securing of the visor is open, thus the indicator light is red. This would have been the proper reply by Silver Linde, but he had been instructed differently by the security adviser of Estline, Captain Enn Neidre, who obviously was not aware of this respectively not acquainted with the installation. After this 'Group of Experts' had explained in writing to the JAIC the different functions and meanings of the indicator lights, the consultant of the Estonian part of the JAIC, Professor Jaan Metsaveer, tried to correct the already existing impression that the Estonians did not know how their relevant safety installations functioned, by stating at a joint meeting of the JAIC and this 'Group of Experts' that the explanation for "all lights were green" was the fact that the careful boatswain always closed the harbour securing at sea to avoid any lights being red. After presentation of the video print below, from one of the underwater videos showing the harbour securing open, the professor remained silent for the rest of the meeting.



In spite of the above the JAIC obviously still considers Silver Linde to be a key witness and his (changing) testimony became an important element in their scenario. The readers of this report shall have the benefit of forming their own opinion on the different statements of Silver Linde which were made at different times and which are presented as follows:

1.) 29.09.94 - 10.20 hours - criminal police Turku:

- metal to metal noise ca. 00.45 hours;

- reported to watch officer and was instructed to wait some time and find out cause, which he was unable to do and so continued his round since nothing more happened;

- ca. 00.58 hours back on bridge - officers relieved each other and master came to the bridge;

- due to reports about strange noises from car deck he was sent down to investigate (no mention of boatswain);

- when on deck 7 the vessel heeled and people asked him for help, situation calmed down somewhat when the vessel came back to port;

- rushed to Information desk on deck 5 and asked for the car deck doors to be opened when the vessel heeled extremely to starboard and everything slid over to the deep side;

- went to deck 4 but lots of people were streaming against him;

- up to deck 7 and reported by walkie-talkie to the bridge that people were screaming in panic and that deck 1 was already flooded.


2.) 03.10.94 - Estonian security police:

- 00.45 hours on car deck - crash behind the ramp - informed officer who asked him to wait for 5 minutes - nothing - all lights were green - down to 1st deck and 0-deck;

- 01.00 hours back on the bridge - bow was still there - order to go down and check, master was on the bridge then;

- no time to see more, there was an immediate list of 10° - could not go down to 4th deck and rushed to deck 7;

- visor was gone, but ramp seemed to be in place.


3.) 17.10.94 - questioned by the JAIC:

- 00.35 hours on car deck - car deck doors were locked;

- he started at the stern: 3 check points -stern -garbage container -bow; - he heard a noise (a bit louder) after 00.30 hours, but nothing could be seen - noise sounded metallic;

- reported to the bridge and waited 5 minutes - nothing - all control lights were green;

- down to decks 1 and 0 - nothing;

- 01.00 hours back to bridge - 2nd officer Ainsalu/4th officer Kikas on watch, captain came a bit later;

- officer reported about strange noises from the bow (no talk about water) and sent Linde with boatswain to check;

- could not get down because people came streaming up - there was water on deck 1;

- the vessel heeled and righted itself up;

- on deck 7 people told him that there was water on deck 1;

- visor was gone, the ramp was in place but slightly open - saw flaps at the ramp;

- Linde went to the Information desk to report to them the order to send out the alarm;

- "Mr. Skylight to No. 1 and 2" is the fire alarm.


4.) 17.11.94 - questioned by the Transport Investigation Office in Tallinn:

- 00.35/40 hours on car deck - no water; - heard heavy bang - metal to metal;

- reported to bridge - Peeter Kannussaar;

- continued round since nothing happened and nothing could be seen;

- at 01.00 hours back to the bridge;

- was sent down again by Tormi Ainsalu to check the reported noises together with the boatswain;

- down to the Information desk and asked to have the car deck doors opened;

- sudden heel - continued nevertheless to deck 4 where he met panic stricken passengers;

- together with these people he went up to the 7th deck;

- he was the first one from the crew on deck 7 outside;

- reported by walkie-talkie to the bridge that there was water on deck 1 which was new to them;

then he lost his walkie-talkie;

- the starboard lifeboats were in the water, but could not be used;

- he heard about water in the cabins of deck 1 for the first time when he was already on deck 7.

Note: According to the available statements only passenger Jaan Stern noted water in his cabin which was the most forward cabin in the centreline on the 1st deck.


5.) 03.12.94 - security police Tallinn:

- ca. 00.40 hours car deck - when he was ca. 1.5 m away from the bow ramp - he heard a bang which he would not have heard had he been 10-20 m away;
it was metal on metal;

- the control panel can only be opened by a special key which the boatswain has in his possession;

- he reported the bang by walkie-talkie to the officer and received the instruction to check and report;

- nothing was found and he was instructed to continue his round;

- time between leaving car deck and reaching the bridge could have been 15-20 minutes;

- at 01.00 hours the officers changed watched on the bridge and that had already taken place when he returned to the bridge;

- he was sent down again to check the ramp together with the boatswain;

- he walked down to the Information desk on deck 5 to ask for the opening of the car deck doors when the vessel heeled to starboard and did not right up again;

- went to deck 4, but could not go further because the alleyways were blocked with people coming up;

- he went up to deck 7 and reported to the bridge by walkie-talkie that there was water on deck 1 which he had heard from a passenger from deck 1, cabin 1064 or 1096 and which surprised the bridge.


6. 11.03.95 (Interview by Jutta Rabe)

- came to the bridge and officer instructed him to go down and check strange noises;

- when on deck 5 vessel heeled to 30°;

- went to deck 4 but could not go further;

- up to deck 7 and reported by walkie-talkie to the bridge that there was water on the decks.


7. 31.03.95 (Neidre present in captain's uniform)

- 00.45 hours heard beating noise on car deck, unusual noise, which he had never heard before or thereafter; - vessel was pitching and rolling;

- reported to watch officer: "Watch A.B. to watch officer: water penetrates through the ventilation grits", and then he explained the noise, was instructed to look around and check for 5 minutes;

- opened control panel and all lights were green; continued his round to decks 1 and 0;

- ca. 01.00 , or just after 01.00 hours, back on the bridge;

- put his walkie-talkie into the recharging station and saw the visor to be in position;

- watch officer told him about a phone call from downstairs that strange noises were heard and instructed him to go down with the boatswain and check - it was the new officer Ainsalu since the officers had changed watch;

- he was not told who had phoned the bridge, just that it had been somebody from downstairs; he did not know whether the speed was reduced and/or if rudder manoeuvres were carried out;

- upon being questioned from where wind and waves were came, he said from all directions, the vessel was rolling and it was impossible to feel a heel to one side;

- the master was on the bridge; the previous officers had already left the bridge;

- he called the boatswain but there was no reply, 2nd officer took over to phone him in the cabin and he went down;

- it was possibly 01.05 hours then;

- he never used the lift because the lift doors to the car deck were locked at night;

Note: This is wrong according to the statement of Anneli Konrad - see Enclosure

- came down to information on deck 5 and asked that the car deck doors be unlocked, when suddenly the vessel heeled severely to starboard and everything moved to the deep side;

- he continued down to deck 4 where he met many passengers streaming up in panic shouting about water on deck 1;

- he rushed up to deck 7 inside the forward large stairway;

- he reported by walkie-talkie to the bridge about the water on deck 1 and was instructed to go down and check, whereafter he fell down and lost his walkie-talkie and subsequently commenced distributing lifevests; the heel was then over 30° to starboard;

- at 01.24 hours he looked at his watch when he was already in the liferaft.


(click for full page images)


Summary of the seven Statements of Silver Linde

a.) Noise heard on car deck:

ca. 00.45, 00.45, 00.35, 00.35/00.40, 00.40, ca. 00.45 and 00.50-00.55;
at first he spoke about an unusual metal/metal noise; then about a crash behind the ramp, then at the hearing by JAIC on 17.10.94 and on 17.11.94 he explained the noise to have been just slightly louder than the normal ones created by wave impact respectively that he could hear the noise only because he was just 1.5 m away from the ramp and he would not have heard it if he would have been 10-20 m away; at the Landvetter hearing on 31.03.95 it became a beating (not a scraping) noise and, finally, in his last testimony on 25.01.96 - the noise was remarkable and not typical for ship/wave contact and he had never heard it before or thereafter, which is actually in agreement with what 3rd engineer Margus Treu had said from the beginning, although had always mentioned at least 2 extraordinary bangs not caused by wave impact.
In summary it has to be concluded that

b.) Action thereafter:

c.) Back to bridge and persons met on the bridge:

d.) After having left the bridge:

e.) At the Information desk

f.) Further action:

g.) The finale:


In summary of the above analysis the following conclusions have to be drawn:

(1) There had certainly been bangs/crashes on the car deck at about 00.45 hours, but definitely not just one.

(2) Silver Linde must have noted a lot of water on the car deck at about this time or earlier and certainly reported this to the bridge. It is possible that he looked into the control panel and thereby also looked at the control lights which were certainly not all green because definitely the bow ramp was not properly locked and the harbour securing was open. The control panel must have been open because the boatswain was working on the hydraulic cylinders of the visor and bow ramp. In this connection his remark made on 3 December 1994 has to be understood, that the controls for the bow ramp could only be operated by a special key which was in the possession of the boatswain.

(3) If Silver Linde really went back to the bridge it must have been at 01.00 hours or just before because the big heel occurred at 01.02 hours according to the clock of Mikael Öun, and less than 5 minutes later Per-Erik Ehrnsten already saw him coming out of the port inner alleyway on deck 7 walking into the forward central stairway (details later on). It is possible that Linde went down to the Information desk just after 01.00 hours - helped the elderly couple on deck 7, which took about a minute according to his own statement, continued to deck 5 and was at the Information desk when the big heel occurred, whereafter he pushed up to the crew accommodation on deck 7. According to Per-Erik Ehrnsten Linde was talking into his walkie-talkie all the time even when he fell and the other two crew members who were with him - presumably Aulis Lee and Aldo Metspalu - helped him back on to his feet and later out on to the deck. It is doubtful and also unimportant whether he ever went down to deck 4 since it is highly doubtful that he ever got an order from the bridge to go down to the car deck, because since 00.45 hours or earlier it was known to those on watch that there was water on the car deck and it is most probable that 2nd mate Peter Kannuussaar and the nautical advisor Juri Aavik were already on the car deck.

(4) This could be the confirmation for a remark made by Linde which he made only once, viz. that he was sent down to the Information desk to advise them to alarm the passengers. It is also amazing that he admitted to having looked at his watch at 01.24 hours when he was already in the liferaft and the vessel was on the side bearing in mind that the first "Mayday" was only picked-up at 01.22 hours and the 3rd mate Andres Tammes was telling SILJA EUROPA at 01.25 that the list was 20°/30° to the right side. Even if Silver Linde's watch had been wrong by 2-3 minutes the discrepancy is remarkable, i.e. just when the mates had finally decided to transmit the "Mayday" at least A.B. sailor Linde was already in the liferaft.

(5) This means also that some of the AB's had left the vessel already at a stage when more or less all the passengers and other crew members were still on board, because at 01.24 hours the heel was probably between 50°-60°. Also Einar Kukk - who was rather early outside on deck 7 - has testified that Silver Linde was already in the liferaft when he went forward.