In the afternoon of 28 September 1994 - the day of the casualty - the Prime Ministers of Estonia, Finland and Sweden met in Turku and decided among other things that a Joint Accident Investigation Commission (JAIC) should be set up "to investigate the capsizing of the ferry Estonia".


The Members

Each of the three countries had to nominate 3 members to participate in this investigation commission which subsequently became known as the "International Commission". As permanent "Accident Investigation Boards" already existed in Finland and Sweden, the chairmen plus each one nautical and one technical expert were nominated by their governments to represent their countries in the JAIC.
These were for

Finland:     Kari Lethola             - Master of law,
                                                  director of the Accident Investigation Board
                Heimo Iivonen           - Rear admiral, director of the Finnish Life
                                                 Boat Association
Dr. Tuomo Karppinen - Senior research scientist in the Technical
                                                 Research Center of Finland, Manufacturing Technology

Sweden:    Olof Forssberg          - Master of Law, Director General of the Accident Investigation
                                                 Board and a high ranking civil servant in the Ministry of Defence
                Börje Stenström         - Naval Architect, chief maritime technical investigator of the
                                                 Accident Investigation Board - † 25.02.1997
                Hans Rosengren       - Master Mariner and lecturer at the Nautical Academy Kalmar,
                                                 chief nautical investigator of the Accident Investigation Board

In Estonia such an organisation did not exist, but already early in the morning of the casualty day President Lennart Meri had decided that in Estonia an independent commission should be formed "to investigate the circumstances having led to the casualty and the government organisations". (The Andi Meister book: "The Unfinished Logbook".) This commission should consist of 11 members, mainly ministers and their representatives. Chairman to be was the Minister for Transport and Communication, Andi Meister, an engineer by profession. Captain Uno Laur, up to 1992 head of the navigation department of ESCO and now a maritime consultant, was appointed by the President to be his personal representative.
      When Prime Minister Maart Laar returned to Tallinn that same evening and reported about the decision to form a joint commission, five names from the above-mentioned 11 member commission were selected and the embassies of Sweden and Finland were informed accordingly.
      Also the same evening the Swedish JAIC members together with the Swedish observer, Captain Sten Andersson from Sjöfartsverket, flew over to Turku and met the Finnish members who had been on site since the morning already and the first discussions between these two groups took place.
     On the following morning, 29 September, the Swedish and Finnish JAIC members met again and, after some further discussions, decided to invite the Estonians to come over the for first joint meeting straight away, which they did. By means of the Estonian Coast Guard plane the following persons flew to Turku:

Heiki Arike                 - Minister of Internal Affairs
Andi Meister              - Transport Minister
Indrek Tarand            - Chancellor of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs
Jüri Kreek                  - Head of Estonian Coast and Border Guard Captain
Enn Neidre                - Head of the Nautical Department of ESCO and Safety Adviser of Estline
Kalle Pedak               - General Director of E.N.M.B.
Captain Uno Laur       - Managing Director of C.N.N.

At 14.00 hours the first meeting of the three-nations JAIC in Turku commenced which was attended by the persons listed up in Enclosure 35.1.440. Among others things it was decided, that Estonia should have the lead of the JAIC because the vessel had been flying the Estonian flag.
      Subsequently the three crew members considered to be key witnesses were heard by the joint JAIC. See Subchapter 37.1.
      At the first meeting of the JAIC, also the head of the Navigation Department of ESCO and Safety Adviser of Estline, Captain Enn Neidre, was present, which apparently was considered to be normal procedure, viz. that the manager responsible for officers and crew inside the organisation of a shipping company is on-site when the survivors come ashore in order to talk to them and prepare them to give evidence to the police subsequently, that is to say, "to remind them of their loyalty to their company". That was actually done by Enn Neidre but he also attended the subsequent hearings of the key witnesses Silver Linde, Margus Treu and Hannes Kadak by the police and the meanwhile formed JAIC.
      The so-called key witnesses and other uninjured crew members who returned to Tallinn on the evening of 29 September 1994 had already been interrogated in Turku. Some of them, considered to be able to give important evidence, up to three times, i.e. by the Finnish, Swedish and Estonian police respectively security police. Upon arrival at the Tallinn airport in the evening they were again interrogated by the Estonian criminal and security police.
      Apparently it became obvious to the Estonians in the course of the following days what really had gone wrong with the ESTONIA and what it would mean for the reputation of the young state of Estonia if the evidence given by some surviving crew members about the real causes for the catastrophe would get to the public. It was thus decided to have somebody with authority inside the JAIC, who was respected and feared by the crew and who would - just by his presence - remind them of their "loyalty obligation" to ESCO. This was Captain Enn Neidre, the head of the Navigation Department of ESCO and safety adviser for Estline.
      Although in an "Immediate Press Release" by the Foreign Ministry of Estonia on 10.10.94 at 17.00 hours - Enclosure 35.1.441 - Indrek Tarand is still mentioned as JAIC member, only half an hour later in a further "Immediate Release" by the same Ministry - see Enclosure 35.1.442 - his name was exchanged by that of Enn Neidre.
Consequently the Estonian part of the JAIC consisted of

Andi Meister                - Minister for Transport and Communications and as such responsible for Estonian Sea Safety and                                     Shipping matters including the E.N.M.B. and ESCO
Captain Uno Laur        - up to 1992 head of the Navigation Department of ESCO and predecessor of Enn Neidre - directly                                    appointed by President Lennart Meri
Captain Enn Neidre     - head of the Navigation Department of ESCO and as such directly responsible for the qualification                                    and training standard of the master, officers and crew of the ESTONIA in addition to being safety                                    advisor of Estline

So much for the newly formed/appointed JAIC for the time being. The conflict of interests was programmed from the very beginning and the members from Sweden and Finland were very much aware of it. "Estonia will bear the main responsibility for the investigation", said Carl Bildt at the press conference in Turku following the decision of the three Prime Ministers to form the JAIC, "however in practice it will be a joint commission because Estonia lacks the resources to carry out everything alone."


The Experts

All three parts of the JAIC used a number of experts in different fields.
These were in the beginning for Estonia:

August Ingerma  - structural integrity
Jaan Metsaveer  - naval architecture
Heimo Jaakula   - public relations E.N.M.B.


Simo Aarnio       - master mariner (navigation) †22.01.96
Kari Larjo           - master mariner (navigation) as from 27.02.96
Klaus Rahka       - metallurgist, structural integrity
Seppo Rajamäki - radio communication


Mikael Huss     - naval architecture
Olle Noord       - master mariner (navigation)
Bengt Schager  - organisational human behaviour (psychologist)

In addition, particular parts of the investigation were entrusted to the Royal Technical High School (KTH), Stockholm, to VTT, Helsinki, to the model test facility SSPA in Gothenburg and to others for scientific examinations.


The Observers

While the Swedish Sjöfartsverket did send their "observer", Captain Sten Andersson, already over to Turku on the day of the casualty, the 28 September 1994, and also the Estonian National Maritime Board (E.N.M.B.) was represented by the Director General, Captain Kalle Pedak, already at the first meeting on 29 September 1994, Finland took a bit longer, but as from 22.08.95 Jukka Häkämies attended all Commission meetings in his capacity as head of the Division of Maritime Inspection of the Finnish Board of Navigation. Consequently all three National Maritime Administrations, having been responsible for the proper certification and compliance of the ferry with SOLAS and other safety conventions were represented at all the meetings of the JAIC, where among other things the failures and omissions of their organisations were - or, at least, should have been - investigated and they even participated in the final drafting of the Report of the JAIC as will be shown later.


The Police Liaisons

Estonia did send their policeman no. 2, Priit Männik, into the JAIC as an expert. Finland's police was represented in the JAIC by Detective Chief Superintendent Hari Rahikka and for the Swedish police this job was probably done by Olof Forssberg, who co-operated quite closely with the investigating public prosecutor Birgitta Cronier at the beginning and subsequently with prosecutor Tomas Lindstrand.


The Administrators

These were for Estonia Aet Varik and Tiit Kaurla from the Ministry of Transport and Communication, for Finland Pirjo Valkama-Joutsen and for Sweden Gunnel Göransson, both from the respective Boards of Accident Investigation.


The Working Groups

Within the JAIC some working groups were formed to make better use of the limited time available.
These were:

- the technical group headed by Börje Stenström (( 25.02.97) and Tuomo Karppinen
- the nautical group headed by Hans Rosengren
- the rescue group headed by Heimo Iivonen
- the editorial group consisting of Uno Laur, Olof Forssberg, Kari Lethola


The Documentation

The Swedish and Finnish parts of the JAIC were obliged by law to keep a register - logbook (dagbok), into which the complete incoming and outgoing documentation had to be registered day-by-day.
      It is unknown what Estonian law requires in this respect and how it was complied with by the Estonian part of the JAIC.
      In Sweden a very detailed and accurate looking logbook system was kept from the very beginning, although it does not contain the complete documentation. In Finland apparently no system whatsoever does exist.
      The Swedish documentation is contained in 9 files A - J, as far as it is known, in which the documents were registered with running numbers, in total more than 1000. The complete register is available to this 'Group of Experts', but not attached to this report. While working papers and other documents considered to be crucial for the investigation were kept "classified" until the Final Report was published, most of the documentation collected by the Swedish part of the JAIC as time went by was open to the public although this was realised by very few people only. After the publication of the Final Report everything should have been made public according to applicable regulations. They were however not complied with as certain documents known to have been in the possession of a member of the JAIC cannot be traced in the files nor are they registered. This refers especially to the repair lists from on board of ESTONIA in which the crew was - among other things - asking for repair of the broken port outer hinge of the bow ramp. According to Börje Stenström these lists have been in his possession.