THE SJÖFARTSVERKET INSPECTORS
AND THEIR TRAINEES
In accordance with the treaty between the Swedish and the Estonian Goverments "Maritime Transport and Safety at Sea and Prevention from Pollution on Marine Environment Projects, Phase IV", signed 03.02.93, the Swedish Sjöfartsverket had sold an education package to the Estonian National Maritime Board (E.N.M.B) which was paid for by the Swedish Board for Investment and Technical Support (BITS) and which, among other things, required Sjöfartsverket to train and educate Estonian master mariners and engineers employed with the E.N.M.B. to carry out Port State Control (PSC) surveys on own and foreign vessels and to issue the respective certificates.
In Annex A of the treaty the "Scope of Services" is outlined and with reference to "Port State Control" (PSC) the following is explained:
»Brush-up seminars and on the job training for ship inspectors in Tallinn, implementing the Port State Control methodology. The training will be carried out in Tallinn.«
In Annex B the obligations of the Estonian side are specified. Under item 7 it is stated:
»To provide all necessary permits, including facilitation of visa formalities and authorisations for the carrying out of the services.«
On 02.02.94 the board of BITS agreed to provide the required amount of SEK 574.340,--. The respective agreement contains the following definition in respect of PSC:
»The training will be performed in Estonia in one-week seminars for 8-14 participants in accordance with international standards. The seminars include on-the-job training, i.e. in practice actual inspections of vessels in international trade. Our inspectors do expect participants from the E.N.M.B., those responsible for PSC in Tallinn as well as those responsible for safety in ESCO.«
It is revealed from the above that the Estonian authorities did initiate and order the advisory services of Sjöfartsverket. As regards the PSC these services should consist of on-the-job training and actual inspections on board of vessels employed in international trade in the port of Tallinn. According to the treaty the Estonians were obliged to authorise the Swedish inspectors properly for this job.
This could only mean that in the light of the treaty and also through the confirmation by the board of BITS, these on-the-job inspections were considered to be normal PSC inspections by properly authorised inspectors.
As to the legal background for these inspections - the SOLAS 1974 Convention and the Paris Memorandum of Understanding - the Paris MOU - reference is made to the report of the Independent Fact Group, Stockholm about the "Forgery of Documents to hide the initial Unseaworthiness of the 'Estonia' ", which is attached as Enclosure 34.1.429 in the Swedish original and as Enclosure 34.1.429.1 in German translation.
The task to train the Estonians was assigned to the Shipinspec office Malmö headed by chief inspector Åke Sjöblom. With regard to this project he reported to Willand Ringborg of International Projects at the head office of Sjöfartsverket (HK = Huved Kontor = head office) at Norrköping. (See also Subchapter 6.3.1.)
In compliance with the agreed training program chief inspector Åke Sjöblom and inspector Gunnar Zahlée travelled to Tallinn on 26 September 1994 and met their high ranking Estonian trainees on the morning of the 27th at the offices of the Estonian National Maritime Board (E.N.M.B.). These were according to the draft report of Åke Sjöblom:
|Uku Tiik||Harbour Master, Pärnu|
|Enn Tiits||Surveyor, Pärnu|
|Arvi Buddel||Deputy Harbour Master, Tallinn|
|Hugo Ink||Harbour Master, Saarema|
|Andres Piirikivi||Harbour Master, Haapsalu|
|Peep Hint||Deputy Harbour Master, Maapsalu|
|Harri Allik||Deputy Harbour Master, Maapsalu|
|Jaak Arro||Principal Specialist on Dangerous Goods, E.N.M.B Sea Safety Director|
|Arne Valgma||Head of the Ship Inspection Division, E.N.M.B.|
After they had spent the morning with the theoretical part of the job the trainees decided to carry out the practical part of it on board of the ferry ESTONIA considered to be the best vessel of the national fleet in every respect. Consequently the group proceeded on board after lunch and carried out a Port State Control inspection during the "on-the-job training", the results of which were and still are the subject of dispute, misinterpretation and misunderstand-ing. Therefore the documentation available shall be analysed and interpreted as follows:
After the casualty Åke Sjöblom and Gunnar Zahlée frequently reported about their subsequent findings, partly in writing and partly verbally. In detail:
- Report "On the Job Training PSC in Estonia" dated 24.10.94 - Enclosure 15.198.
- Letter to Willand Ringborg of 24.10.94 - Enclosure 15.199.
- "Report of Inspection in accordance with the Memorandum of Understanding on Port State Control" - Enclosure 15.200.
- Transcript of an interview by a Spiegel TV team held in Tallinn on the evening of 28 September 1994 - Enclosure 15.201.
- Report on a telephone interview by criminal inspector Egon Bergqvist from the Stockholm police on 31.10.94 - Enclosure 15.202.
- Transcript of the questioning by the Swedish part of JAIC on 02.11.94 - Enclosure 15.203.
- Furthermore, one of the trainees, the head of the Ship Inspection Division of the Estonian National Maritime Board (E.N.M.B.), Arne Valgma, was heard by the criminal police in Tallinn already on 29.09.94 and the respective statement is attached as Enclosure 15.204.
- Reportedly Åke Sjöblom and Gunnar Zahlée were heard by the Estonian Security Police in their hotel during the night 28/29 September 1994. The statements are not available.
The statement of Ulf Beijner is, however, available. He has testified that at a confidential meeting at the Sjöfartsverket's head office about 10 days after the casualty Åke Sjöblom explained what they had really found on board the ESTONIA, viz. the absolutely disastrous condition of the bow ramp, the mattresses, blankets and rugs plugged into the gap at the lower corner in way of the severely damaged port hinges, where the bow ramp was already detached from the vessel. Further that they had consequently demanded from their highest ranking trainee, the head of the Ship Inspection Division of the E.N.B.M., Arne Valgma, that the ferry should under no circumstances sail in this condition, which was said to have been rejected by him and subsequently by the Estonian authorities up to the highest level.
The above has been confirmed by a colleague of Ulf Beijner, the next-in-charge of another district, who added that Åke Sjöblom then - after the Estonians had rejected to stop the ferry - spoke first to his direct superior, Sea Safety Director Bengt-Erik Stenmark, who felt unable to do anything because they had no authority in Tallinn, and subsequently, to the General Director of Sjöfartsverket, Kaj Janérus, who felt also unable to do anything to stop the ferry. The result is well known and 8 hours later the ESTONIA was down at the bottom of the sea and about 1000 people had lost their lives.
The available information and documentation shall now be discussed in detail, always with reference to the Report of the Independent Fact Group - see Enclosure 34.1.429.
The task of chief inspector Åke Sjöblom and inspector Gunnar Zahlée was to demonstrate to a rather high ranking group of Estonian Ship Safety officials, among them the head of the Ship Inspection Division of the Estonian National Maritime Board, Sea Safety Director Arne Valgma, the meaning and importance of Port State Control inspections. The test object was ESTONIA, believed by the Estonian trainees to be the best vessel of the Estonian merchant navy fleet.
At the end of the inspection a "Report of Inspection in accordance with the Memorandum of Understanding on Port State Control" was jointly drawn up on a Sjöfartsverket form - see Enclosure 15.200 - which is frequently referred to and of which apparently several versions do exist, because according to Arne Valgma's testimony to the police - see Enclosure 15.204 - there were only eight items noted on this document which was signed by himself and he expressly confirmed that it did conform with their real findings and that no other defects were noted. He declared further that of these eight items, six were coded 99, i.e. could be rectified subsequently and only two were coded 17, i.e. to be rectified before departure and this was just the replacement of a wing screw from a galley window on the 7th deck and the closing of two covers on car deck. This document is not available to this 'Group of Experts'. The number and status of crucial items look quite different in the "Report of Inspection in accordance with the Memorandum of Understanding on Port State Control" (hereafter called "The Report of Inspection") which was submitted by Åke Sjöblom to the JAIC (Enclosure 15.200) and which contains in total 15 items including the eight mentioned by Arne Valgma in his statement and which is also signed by Arne Valgma, although this "Report of Inspection" is on a form of the National Maritime Administration (of Sweden). The additional items are
|1280||Sounding pipe aux. engine room||code 17|
|0720||2 portable fire extinguishers missing||code 17|
|0710||Fire Prevention: Navigation bridge door, Boiler room closing device missing, Fire door in galley not working properly||code 17|
These five items had to be rectified before departure and were not mentioned by Arne Valgma, probably because it is doubtful whether the crew could have managed to rectify them before departure or he knew that they had not rectified them before departure.
The other four items are coded 99, i.e. to be rectified subsequently. It means, however, that several different "Reports of Inspection" must exist, viz. the one which was attached to the statement of Arne Valgma to the Estonian Police (not available), the one attached as Enclosure 15.200 and other versions as shown on pages 12 through 15 in the Report of the Independent Fact Group (IFG) - see Enclosure 34.1.429 - and all were signed by Arne Valgma.
It is obvious that Arne Valgma tried to hide the real findings from his superiors and the Estonian police, because he, in his capacity as Director of the Sea Safety Division of the E.N.M.B., had been obliged to make sure that the items had been rectified before departure and if that could not have been achieved by the crew, the ferry mandatorily should have stayed in port until all items had been rectified to the satisfaction of the authorities. This is the reason why Arne Valgma tried to play down the problems discovered on board and testified wrongly and incompletely to the criminal police and, in addition, committed forgery of documents - see Enclosure 34.1.429 - Report of the Independent Fact Group.
Next the various interviews/statements shall be scrutinized as follows:
In the telephone interview with the police inspector Egon Bergqvist - see Enclosure 15.202 - Åke Sjöblom expressed himself rather vaguely, however, in his draft report and in the interview with the journalist from Spiegel TV - see Enclosure 15.201 - on the day after the catastrophe, and in particular, in the interview with the Swedish part of JAIC on 02.11.94 - see Enclosure 15.203 - he and Gunnar Zahlée went much more into detail. On the other hand, it is quite obvious that during the latter interview the tape was switched off when the really crucial parts, i.e. visor, bow ramp, car deck, competency of crew, etc., were discussed and if really something had remained on the tape, on the transcript it reads »unclear, disturbed, difficult to understand«.
This interview was held on 02.11.94 in Stockholm and the participants were (as far as is revealed from the tape):
Olof Forssberg (OF)
Åke Sjöblom (ÅS)
Hans Rosengren (HR)
Olle Noord (ON)
Gunnar Zahlée (GZ)
Bengt Schager (BS)
Sten Andersson (SA)
Note: Sten Andersson from the legal department of Sjöfartsverket was the observer who attended all the relevant meetings and also participated in the drafting of the part report and the final report.
The evidence available from the above-mentioned documentation is divided into
(a) On the procedure
(1) Certificates and other documents
(2) Mimic panel on the bridge
(3) Watertight and fire doors
(4) Lack of respect for load line matters on car deck, bow ramp and in the visor
(5) The chief officer
(6) Cargo securing devices
(7) The chief officer and the crew in general
(8) The indicator lights
(a) On the procedure:
In the draft report of ÅS:
»27.09.94: Introduction to PSC and theoretical lessons were given. The afternoon subject for "On the Job Training" was chosen by the trainees. The inspection was roughly planned.
12.00-18.00: MV "Estonia", an Estonian passenger ship, was inspected as a port state control case and we all started in the wheel house by introducing ourselves to the commanding officer on board (chief officer) and explaining the purpose of our visit.
The chief officer had no objections and we started with certificate and document control. Then we split into two groups. One, accompanied by chief engineer, started in the engine room and worked upwards. The other, accompanied by the chief officer, started in wheel house and worked downwards.
Around 16.30 hours we were all gathered in the officers' mess for summoning our 'findings'. These 'findings' were then discussed and agreed upon with chief officer and chief engineer. We then left the ship around 17.30 hours and closed the day.«
In the Spiegel TV interview:
»We explained why do you look at certain things on board, explained about certificates and what is the meaning of certificates - you certify to the international community that you have surveyed this vessel. We explained to them a lot of things, and so and so. This is the normal way when you have trainees. In the afternoon we came on board "Estonia" at 12:30 and we spent 5-6 hours. We left at 05:30 just before loading of the vessel.«
Note: According to Gunnar Zahlée loading had commenced already when they were still on the car deck, but Åke Sjöblom had presumably gone upstairs then already.
»We split up into two groups, one group started down in the engine room and walked up, the other group started up in the wheel-house and walked down. We did not meet the captain on board. He was said to be ashore doing some pilot examination, we don't know what it is. So the man in charge on board, the chief officer, was accompanying us all day together with the chief engineer. The 2 highest officers on board were together with us all day. We had an open, very nice atmosphere together with our trainees. There were 9 and, of course, there were some findings. All these findings were discussed altogether, understood and there shall be no misunderstanding, we have not inspected the vessel, it has been an on-the-job-training and what we saw on board is, of course, ..... we made notes, it is just working papers for this trainee program and the officers on board, of course, they listened and we fully agreed that some of these findings needed immediate action, and they did, no problem.«
The findings are divided into "areas of relevance" and the first one is:
(1) The certificates and other documents
To Spiegel TV :
ÅS: "We found some other things. The documentation was not to our satisfac-tion. This cannot be settled immediately, it has to be done by someone and it will take some time. It was the safety plan, the muster list. It is the alarm list on board, it is the alarm list on board telling what everybody has to do in case of an emergency. It was not completed according to regulations. They could not show us a damage control plan, they could not show us a cargo securing manual."
To the JAIC:
ÅS: "We went through all their certificates, we asked them to show us some manuals, the stability booklet, etc. They hesitated slightly already from the beginning. We were not shown the stability booklet which we wanted to see, however, we are not saying that it was not on board, but the chief officer having the final responsibility also had no access to this material and obviously he did not know where he should actually search for it. What we were missing was also an approved stability manual. They were unable to read a damage control plan. Bridge instructions were not available on the bridge then. The vessel's characteristics, in case of damage, we also could not view."
ÅS: "After we had overcome the documentation check, with which we were not fully satisfied, however this was more in detail, we were missing the exemption certificate for their liferafts. This was SOLAS, Part B, Liferafts and had they ever used them it should have been placed somewhere where it could be found. The exemption issued by the authority having certified the vessel was missing. We were not surprised that not all of the requested documents were on board, but the chief officer, the acting commanding officer, was unable to show any of them to us, without any explanation."
OF: "As to the missing documents, did you ever get any explanation where they were?"
ÅS: "Yes, we dropped it."
Arne Valgma has stated the contrary to what Åke Sjöblom said in the Spiegel TV interview, viz.
0920 - Safety Plan:
Arne Valgma: Was on the bridge, but not in English. Åke Sjöblom: It was not completed according to regulations.
2030 - Damage Control Plan:
Arne Valgma: Was on the bridge, but not in English.
Åke Sjöblom: They could not show us a damage control plan.
2045 - Cargo Securing Manual:
Arne Valgma: The manual was on the bridge.
Åke Sjöblom: They could not show us a cargo securing manual.
(2) The mimic panel on the bridge (this panel shows the location of the many watertight doors and the fire doors with numbers, and with one red and one green lamp each indicating whether the door is open or closed): Not mentioned to Spiegel TV.
To the JAIC:
ÅS: "On the bridge we had a dispute about the mimic panel ...... there it is written ...... why I do not mean that everything is wrong. It was not so that it did not function. Now we did not test any closings of ...... But aren't there maybe 500-600 people on board down there? This is completely impossible. Gunnar ..... carried out certain local tests down there.
As far as the mimic panel is concerned, it was actually so that the chief officer did not really know what was open and what was closed. There was green light and the chief officer was of the opinion that this meant that it was closed. And this is what it should be according to the new SOLAS rules, however, on this vessel it meant that they were open."
- "This is just equipment which is incorporated into the Damage Control Plan, this must close directly. And this closes from above to below in case of emergency. This is just normal minimum knowledge that they know whether they are open or closed, that's what I wanted to say."
(3) The watertight doors and the fire doors
GZ: "We closed the watertight doors manually, but they came back almost immediately to 'open' position because the input on the bridge was 'open'. It was not possible to close all doors simultaneously with all the many people on board.
We checked the fire doors and found a problem, I believe, in the galley area, where they had completely sabotaged the fire protection, without really understanding what they had done. In the area of the boiler room nothing fitted at all."
(4) Lack of respect for load line matters on car deck and bow ramp, in the visor
To Spiegel TV:
ÅS: "We went down to the car deck. We experienced a lack of respect for load line matters, and when we say this, and we discussed it with the chief officer, we said we don't understand how came that this hatch cover is open here? It has always to be closed and it has not been closed for the last 1 or 2 years, and so on. I think it was in 2 or 3 places. Of course they closed it immediately, but for us it was extremely important that they understood what we were talking about. If you run aground with your ship or sail against some rocks or something, then the water comes up from below, then it must be closed tight on the freeboard deck so that you don't get water all over the ship."
To the JAIC:
ÅS: "Then we went around on the car deck and had a look at the fire-main section valves and fire stations, which were all ok. Then we went out and had a look at the ramp. Then we saw that there was damage to the packing, big damage, about half a meter on each side, there, in way of the 'corners of the mouth' as it is called, where it settles down quite heavily. We could not see whether there was more damage further forward because the ramp was down. And it was a clear mechanical wear. If I should explain this now here, one has to imagine that one is standing there and chopping it off by means of an axe to the effect that it is flat, but not completely gone. However, it can never have been tight the way it looked. Similar on both sides. Then I said to the chief engineer: 'This has to be rectified.' He replied: 'Yes, we have ordered them when we go into the shipyard', and it was my impression that this would be soon."
(Discussion not recorded.)
BS: "Those here which you found in the 'corners of the mouth'. What are the most probable causes for this?"
GZ: "I believe that they did seal (difficult to understand), so they did .... very many."
ÅS: "We discussed the matter with the bow visor with the chief officer and also the damaged equipment, although small. Gunnar explained the damage to me and some form of mechanical damage which would indicate that something did not fit properly. It was also known to us that B.V. had been on board about one month before and we thus asked the chief officer whether B.V. had made any recommendations in respect of such equipment. He had absolutely no idea. We raised questions and discussed everything with our trainees, the fact that it was quite something for recommendations to have been written on board and that the chief officer knew absolutely nothing about them, and this in his capacity as the commanding officer."
ÅS: "The visor, yes. As we had discussed before, we were practically dis-satisfied with it, as we did say to the chief officer. We had the impression that there was a lack of respect for load line matters. We had an argument with him and he was very open and he accepted all of this. It is, of course, with the result known, I mean it is in hindsight very easy to think a particular way."
GZ: "You asked whether there was ramp and visor. I looked at the ramp just visually and I could not see any damage. This goes automatically, the eyes look round and round."
The picture following this demonstrates the conditions that the Swedish inspectors and their trainees found on the open bow ramp. The arrow points to the location where at that time an angle iron was fitted.
GZ: "I did not look at particular scuppers, do you mean whether they were open or closed?"
ON: "How did they look, full with rubble, debris or ?"
GZ: "No, no, this was actually not so."
ÅS: "On the car deck I went along with the chief officer and stirred up load line matters. There were also hatches open which absolutely never had been closed. They were closing them thereafter, however, without under-standing why it had to be done, in case water would come up and the consequences. Before the background of what has happened it is, of course, natural that also Gunnar and I connect certain things together. But it is a fact that we had formulated exactly: 'We have seen a lack of respect for load line matters', and with this we were practically very dissatisfied."
SA: "Did you make a complete round of the car deck?"
ÅS: "We just looked at the fore part:"
SA: "It is possible that the hatch remained open thereafter?"
ÅS: "Yes, we do not know whether it is true if you say that she went down that extremely fast, then she must have been water filled. Normally she would settle on one side, there is always air ....... which are closed? Yes, but this cannot come in that extremely fast, not into the whole vessel."
To Spiegel TV:
ÅS: "Then we noticed this defect on the rubber packings of the bow door, the outer bow door. You have a 'bowvisier' as we say in Sweden. It is a bow door, it is more or less for cosmetics. It is normally not watertight, it is weathertight. There are rubber packings. Inside you have a watertight bow door. Here. What we found were some defects on port side and starboard side on the packings, not on the steel construction itself. Just on the packings some defects and there should be no defects, so we informed chief officer."
The expressions "weathertight" and "watertight" in relation to the visor need to be explained and the exact definition of these terms according to SOLAS is as follows:
The definition for "weathertight" according to SOLAS, Chapter II-1, Regulation 2, paragraph 11 is:
»Weathertight means that in any sea conditions water will not penetrate into the ship.«
The definition for "watertight" according to SOLAS, Chapter II-1, Regulation 18 is:
»Construction and initial tests of watertight doors, side cuttles, etc., in passenger ships and cargo ships.
2 In passenger ships and cargo ships each watertight door shall be tested by water pressure to a head up to the bulkhead deck or freeboard deck respectively. The test shall be made before the ship is put into service, either before or after the door is fitted.«
The picture behind this page shows the car deck opening with the open bow ramp. The arrow points to the position from where Sjöblom/Zahlée looked over the rail of the bow ramp. It is quite obvious that they could not see much of the rubber packing.
Åke Sjöblom made the following drawing and points to the area which is indicated by the arrow meaning both port and starboard side.
It should be noted that Åke Sjöblom has placed the bow ramp, which is the upper extension of the collision bulkhead on top of the collision bulkhead which was not the case on ESTONIA and also not on DIANA II, the near-sister, for which he had then been responsible for about 2 years already with his Malmö inspection office of Sjöfartsverket as the National Maritime Administration.
Arne Valgma stated in this respect only:
»Note 1284 'Bow door' :
Under 99 reference is made to the rubber seals of the bow door which were found ripped/scored up to 30 cm, with a depth of 2-3 mm, which could have been caused by mechanical contact. As this was not considered to be a remarkable damage, a notation was made and attached to the code 99, which means that repairs can be carried out subsequently.
Note 1250: 'Covers on bulkhead deck to be closed.' 17.
This refers to 2 hatches on the car deck aft part which should be closed, which was also done in our presence.«
(5) Stability calculations
ÅS: "I do not know all the findings by memory, but we had a dispute. Yes, this with the stability. We asked the chief officer, who carries out the stability calculation before sailing, and he said: 'The 2nd officer.' We never met the 2nd officer, I waited, but he must have been busy somewhere else. We also did not meet him later on. However, as mentioned before, we were somewhat concerned."
Arne Valgma did not comment on this important subject at all.
(6) Cargo securing devices
To Spiegel TV:
ÅS: "We found some cargo securing devices with defects. This is a device you use to secure lorries, cars, trucks, containers, anything. Normally you take this type of damaged device away so that you don't use them by accident, because they will not work and we asked the chief officer if they used them? His answer was: If necessary. OK, this might mean that they have them as spare parts, as extras. We don't know. It is the captain's responsi-bility anyway not to use damaged cargo securing devices. It is absolutely forbidden, so."
To the JAIC:
- "Defect span lashings and lashing arrangements were noted as well."
- "You will, of course, never use them? They should go ashore. He replied: 'If necessary', which means in principle that they were keeping them as spares."
Arne Valgma stated in this respect:
»Note 1199: 'Cargo securing devices' 99.
Refers to securing devices on 'car deck' (about 2-3) which were no more to be used. Could be done subsequently.«
(7) The chief officer and the crew in general
No comments to Spiegel TV and no comments by Arne Valgma.
To the JAIC:
BS: "The chief officer, how was his attitude when he was unable to submit these documents?"
ÅS: "Yes, he was stressed. We demanded possibly too much. What disturbed him most, I believe, was that we had detailed remarks on the B.V. certificates, this appeared to him to be very irritating. He thought that it was extremely embarrassing that they did not have an exemption certificate for the liferafts."
- "There were also no indications that a ..... should occur. The damage to the packings of the visor are of absolutely no importance, more maybe dropping leakage, it is in principle just weathertightness that one focuses on and there is always water inside the visor, on all vessels, there is nothing abnormal with this. But, of course, we have in hindsight no foundation for that. This was also the lack of respect for load line matters, not just those but moreover a lack of understanding. We have discussed quite a lot with the chief officer."
BS: "In what way did the lack of understanding become obvious?"
ÅS: "It actually began with the mimic panel. One would assume that the chief officer of a vessel with direct responsibility for ... (tape apparently switched off). If there is uncertainty one has to ..... and small pieces of rags are fitted to .... When we point out this lack of respect we mean this hatch on the freeboard deck which was open, at least one of them then closed this hatch by using force."
OF: "Don't you have comments about the crew, the master? Just between us, how did it function? Do you know anything about this? The question which always comes up, Russian culture and a very authoritarian system, the master more or less a Godfather, etc., do you know anything about this? Can you comment on this?"
GZ: "Actually not, at least I cannot."
ÅS: "No, also not me. We formulated in each case, so was at least assured that we had drawn attention to it and left it with the commanding officer. We had the impression that the endeavours on board in this respect remained limited."
BS: "This means safety culture or what?"
ÅS: "Oh, yes."
OF: "But this means also that had it been a normal PSC, you would have put more pressure on them to submit the really important documents, is that so?"
ÅS: "No, that I do believe. As they looked they had presumably real problems with the certificates."
(8) The indicators lights
To Spiegel TV:
ÅS: "A lot of locking devices on both these doors with indication up in the wheel-house and this indication was in full operation when we were on board. It was red light because it was, yes, it was open because they were taking garbage out, dirty linen, clean linen in, so this was before loading."
He did not mention this to JAIC, at least it is not on the tape or in the transcript. Arne Valgma mentioned nothing in this respect.
(9) Interview by public prosecutor Tomas Lindstrand
Åke Sjöblom was interviewed in February 1998, after the prosecutor had been in Papenburg, and stated the following:
- it had just been for training purposes, thus no valid PSC;
- visor and bow ramp were open;
- it had been a limited inspection during which only certain damage to the rubber packings of the visor in the "corners of the mouth" were noted;
- it looked as if the visor did not fit correctly anymore;
- perhaps it could be compared with a misaligned car door which was hanging down somewhat but could still be closed and locked properly;
- it is likely that during opening and closing there might have been a squeaking sound, this, however, is no reason to question in hindsight the functioning of the visor and locking devices.
- To the question: "Did you try to stop the vessel from leaving Tallinn?", he replied: "I have never said that I had tried to stop the vessel. I had no chance to stop it since it was an exercise and not a Port State Control."
In summary of the aforementioned it has to be concluded that two top inspectors from the Swedish Sjöfartsverket and nine (or ten) of the highest ranking government civil servants from Estonian Ship Safety had inspected the ESTONIA during the afternoon before her last departure from Tallinn for ca. 4-6 hours. They were accompanied by her chief officer and her chief engineer when they made the relevant observations which they have commented as follows:
(a) The documentation was not to their satisfaction because:
- the safety plan and muster list were not according to regulation;
- the chief officer could not show them the damage control plan nor could he show the cargo securing manual;
- the chief officer could not submit the stability booklet and did not know where to search for it;
- also he could not submit the approved stability manual;
- the chief officer was unable to read a damage control plan;
- bridge instructions were not available on the bridge;
- vessel's characteristics in case of damage could not be viewed.
- the exemption certificate for liferafts was missing.
In summary they concluded that the chief officer, who was the acting commanding officer since the master was ashore, could not show them any of the relevant documents/certificates and did not give them an explanation for this.
(b) The mimic panel on the bridge:
- the chief officer did not really know which light meant open and which meant closed.
- he was of the opinion that the green light meant "closed", although actually it meant "open".
(c) The watertight doors and the fire doors:
- there was a problem in way of the galley where they had completely sabotaged the fire protection;
- in the area of the boiler room nothing fitted at all.
(d) Lack of respect for load line matters was noted on the car deck and in way of bow ramp/visor:
- hatch covers were found open which should have been mandatorily closed, but had been open for the last one or two years (in two or three places).
- there was big damage to the rubber packings of the visor in the "corners of the mouth", it was clear mechanical wear, about 0,5 m each side, it can never have been tight the way it looked.
- there was also some form of mechanical damage (to the visor) which indicated that something did not fit properly.
- it looked as if the visor did not fit anymore correctly, perhaps it could be compared to a misaligned car door which was hanging down some-what, but still could be closed and locked properly.
- they knew that B.V. had written recommendations about one month before, but the chief officer knew absolutely nothing about them and he was the commanding officer.
- they were particularly dissatisfied with the visor and said so to the chief officer, they had the impression that there was a lack of respect for load line matters.
Note: The written recommendations by B.V. issued about one month before, i.e. probably on 25.08.94, are unknown and are neither mentioned in the Final Report of the JAIC nor are they part of the available documentation.
(e) Stability calculations:
- they asked the chief officer: "Who carries out the stability calculations before departure?", and he replied: "The 2nd officer." They waited for him but he never showed up, which concerned them.
(f) Cargo securing devices:
- they found some cargo securing devices defect and asked the chief officer whether he would ever use them and he replied: "If necessary."
(g) The chief officer and the crew in general:
- they formulated their findings in each case so it was at least assured that they had drawn attention to it and left it with the commanding officer. They had the impression, however, that the endeavours on board in this respect remained limited.
The Sjöfartsverket inspectors finalised their comments by stating that:
»Before the background of what has happened, it is, of course, natural that also we make a connection of certain things. But it is a fact that we had formulated exactly: "We have seen a lack of respect for load line matters", and with this we were particularly very dissatisfied.«
In a subsequent phone call Åke Sjöblom told Bengt Schager, the psychological expert of the Swedish Commission, that the crew on board the ESTONIA was the worst he had ever met in his long years of experience. On the other hand, Åke Sjöblom does not create the impression that he has a bad conscience or feels guilty, which is obviously due to the fact that he had tried whatever was in his powers to stop the ferry from departing which, however, was in vain. Contrary to Arne Valgma, who could have stopped the ferry, Åke Sjöblom indeed could have done no more.
In summary it has to be concluded here, that it is quite obvious that the Sjöfartsverket's inspectors had found the ESTONIA to be unseaworthy in several respects and consequently had done their utmost to avoid her departure which, however, had been in vain since they did not have the authority to enforce this, although they should have according to the treaty and the BITS agreement. See page 355. After the casualty up to day everything has been done to keep this matter, with the consent and assistance of the JAIC, unex-plained. It is for this reason that the Swedish side and, in particular, Åke Sjöblom have emphasised time and again that the inspection was not a proper PSC but just on-the-job training, while the Estonian side, up to Minister level, still stresses that it was a valid PSC and that the vessel had been found to be seaworthy otherwise she would not have been permitted to sail.