Olszewski, who dove to MS Estonia in 2000 and 2001, served as an expert during the 2019 documentary expedition and saw the state of the hull on a monitor. “It was curious that the hull had changed very little in that time,” he said.
The diver attributed this to the fact that there is very little oxygen on the seafloor where MS Estonia sank, as well as the Baltic Sea’s very low water temperature. Everything has allegedly been preserved – including the victims’ bodies – with the exception of one thing. “A big pile of sand in the starboard area in 2000 and 2001 had been washed away or had disappeared. That allowed new damage to be found that caused a stir.”
Archbishop’s motive unclear
Olszewski saw victims’ bodies scattered around the wreck during his first expedition in 2000. The crew lost an element of its sonar and had to search the whole area for it in which process they saw a lot of victims. “We saw them on monitors, not directly,” the diver explained. “It is clear that we are talking about a grave site. And, of course… (looking for the right words) it is not something we do every day. Therefore, it is possible to make a thing out of it...”
It turns out that Olszewski has read Estonian newspapers and was referring to a statement by Archbishop of the Estonian Evangelical Lutheran Church (EELK) Urmas Viilma where he criticized the private expedition, pointing to a sanctity of the grave site agreement. “Really! Having intimate knowledge of the affair and having spent a lot of hours investigating it, I really do not understand the archbishop and his message,” he said.
Olszewski said he has met with representatives of MS Estonia victims’ next of kin on numerous occasions and been asked to ascertain the truth of what happened. “Are the next of kin not deserving of peace?” he asked. “They do not currently have it. They remain concerned and anxious until the truth has been found.”
“Has the archbishop met with [MS Estonia] next of kin? Does he know of what he speaks or is he simply seizing an opportunity to broadcast his organization’s message? It is a very sensitive subject and one best not commented on without knowledge of the situation,” Olszewski said.
Asked whether divers have received training to cope with finding dead bodies, Olszewski said it is not anticipated. “We do not expect to come across them on the car deck. People are not on the car deck during the voyage,” he said.