In this chapter the reader is introduced to the condition of the wreck as concluded from the reports of the divers (Enclosures 27.409 and 27.410) and from the different videos available to this 'Group of Experts'.
The General Condition
This can best be explained by the Smit Tak Survey Report of December 1994 - Enclosure 27.410 - where it is stated:
»The wreck of the ESTONIA lies on her starboard side in a direction 095°/097° true, which consequently means her decks are facing south. In longitudinal direction there is little to no heel. Both rudders are clear and do have an angle of 35 degrees to starboard. Both propellers and propeller shafts are clear. Starboard bilge is clear from the seabed and the deck side is partly buried in the mud. Liferafts have not been noticed in the racks and since none are floating on lines between the ship and the surface it is assumed that all have been released.
On port side some lifeboats are still hanging in or attached to the davits, a condition which could not be established on the starboard side because of the aforementioned list. The port side anchor was reported to be in the hawse pipe, starboard side has not been seen but is assumed to be in the hawse pipe as well.«
The visor was missing with the remains of the hinges on the forecastle deck broken, both front bulkheads and the bow ramp were noted to be severely damaged, damaged/broken railings and broken davits were found in way of deck 7 and some broken windows/port holes on other decks.
Window panels were found to have been pushed out and doors in the aft bulkheads of decks 5 and 7 were missing while the door in the front bulkhead of deck 5 leading down to the forecastle deck was noted to be open.
Note: This door could only be opened by crew members. The aft parts of the superstructures in way of decks 7 and 8 on the port side were found to be partly distorted and buckled. Large flakes of paint were scored off the aft parts of decks 5 and 6 - see the two images below - which was most probably caused when the vessel was in upside down condition with the stern already aground and the bow still above the water. - See the drawing below.
Otherwise no noteworthy damage was found according to the Smit-Tak/ Rockwater reports which was taken over by the JAIC as well, although much more damage could have been seen by carefully evaluating the available video footage as will be explained in the following subchapters.