“It’s now or never,” said Raivo Hellerma, head of MS Estonia next of kin association Memento Mare. “We are not looking for culprits or trying to prove an existing theory. I simply believe this is a unique opportunity to answer at least some of the questions we have.”
Head of the Swedish MS Estonia next of kin organization SEA Lennart Berglund said he feels like all previous investigations were carried out to hide the true reason for the ferry’s sinking. “It (Kurm’s investigation – ed.) is very important for us in terms of finding the real reason of the Estonia disaster,” he said, having spent the last 27 years pondering the causes of the shipwreck.
Margus Kurm said that he has had the idea for an independent investigation for some time. “This summer, we managed to find a suitable team and sponsor,” the former public prosecutor said.
Asked why such a parallel investigation is needed, Kurm said there are a lot of unanswered questions surrounding the shipwreck. “If I’m honest, I do not trust them (the Estonian Safety Investigation Bureau – ed.). Maybe they are the right people doing the right thing,” Kurm said, adding that he does not wish to elaborate on what has eroded trust in the past.
He said that the problem goes beyond the bureau. A recent Norwegian documentary saw politicians make promises that Kurm suggests have not been kept. “We were told there would be a broad-based investigation, an international expert committee, a project manager and next of kin being able to appoint their representative. None of those things have happened,” he said. Kurm also said that an alternative expedition is needed because the Estonian safety bureau has involved Swedish colleagues. “It is very difficult for me to believe the work is sincere as long as the Swedes are involved,” he said.
“Underwater robots, sonar, a magnetometer…” Kurm listed in terms of technical possibilities offered by research vessel RS Sentinel chartered from German company RS Offshore. A second team of underwater robotics has been hired, equipped with photogrammetry capacity. “We plan to create a 3D model of damage to the hull,” Kurm said, adding that four freelance divers and a support team will be in charge of the work. This should provide a comprehensive overview of the MS Estonia wreck and the surrounding area.
Kurm invited Singapore-based Polish expert Andrzej Jasionowski to analyze the results.
Head of marine accidents investigators SophusQuorum, Jasionowski has been involved in the MS Estonia saga before. He was part of the Swedish government’s 2005 consortium and in charge of various MS Estonia studies. Their efforts concluded that the ferry most likely sank because of the bow visor coming undone, which is also the official version of events.