Remembering the MS Estonia (1)
Archived Articles 26 Sep 2008 Eva VabasaluEWR
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Sunday, September 28th will mark the 14th anniversary of the sinking of the MS Estonia ferry which sank in a mere 45 minutes in the middle of the Baltic Sea south of the little island of Utö, Finland in a depth of 70 - 80 metres at 1:48 a.m. Purchased by Nordström & Thulin the ferry was chartered out to two different companies and registered in the name of Estonian Shipping Co. in Cyprus and Estonia. It had a carrying capacity of 2000 passengers. On this fatal crossing there were 989 people on board. The majority of the victims were Swedes (502) and Estonians (280), followed by Latvians (20), Russians (12), Finns (10), Danes (5), Germans (5), Norwegians (6), Lithuanians (4), Moroccans (2), French (1), Dutch (1), Nigerian (1), Canadian (1), Great Britain (1) and Belarusian (1). Total 852 dead. 137 survived.

The official report claimed the 50 ton bow door (visor) and car ramp had severed due to heavy seas, the visor coming apart in such a way that it didn't set off a warning signal to indicate the door had come ajar. The Estonia Agreement 1995, signed by Finland, Estonia, Latvia, Denmark, Russia, Sweden and Great Britain, the treaty prohibits the citizens of these countries from visiting the site of the wreck and the waters are controlled by radar and the Finnish Navy.

Anders Björkman, M.Sc. Naval Architect and Marine Engineer is an avid critic of the Swedish government's conclusions regarding the cause of the vessel's sinking and has written extensively on this subject. He contends wave loads of 4 metres could not cause malfunction of the bow door (visor) or locks to fail and in his opinion of January 2001 believes the visor did not drop off the vessel at any time. According to Björkman the bow door was removed from the ferry underwater by the Swedish navy after the accident happened when the vessel lay on the ocean floor. The Bow Visor Separation 2.8.

Writing in the New Statesman May 23, 2005 "Death in the Baltic: The M16 Connection" Stephen Davis a TV producer and former newspaper editor claims that while he was investigating another worldwide smuggling operation he was advised by a retired M16 agent whom he had known for a long time to look into the U.K.'s and the Baltic countries role in the Estonia disaster. The M16 officer told him there were electronic guidance systems for missiles being smuggled from Russia to the West on the MS Estonia when it sank and M16 on behalf of the CIA had been involved with this operation. He alleges Britain and Sweden were stealing Russian military equipment and surmises that possibly a Russian mine was placed on the MS Estonia intending to be a strong warning but events careened out of control.

Also Davis informs that earlier in August 2000 Gregg Bremis an American businessman, (owner of the submerged Lusitania sunk by Germans during WWI) a diving and salvage expert teamed up with Jutta Rabe to launch an independent investigation of the MS Estonia wreck. They organized a dive, filmed the hole found near the bow and took metal from the bow for testing. The metal analyzed by U.S. and German test laboratories concluded it had changed form as metal does when exposed to an explosion. Later Gregg Bremis was advised by the U.S. State Department to terminate his investigation.

Christopher Bollyn writes in Ill-fated Estonia Ferry Used for Weapons Transfers (Part I) that on November 30, 2004 Swedish television, Uppdrag Gransknning, interviewed Lennart Henriksson, a former Stockholm chief customs official with 38 years of customs experience who said he had been ordered to permit vehicles carrying Russian military technology to pass without inspection on September 14 and 20, 1994. Such orders he said came from the commander of the Swedish Military and general director of Swedish customs. According to Davis in this broadcast Henriksson confirmed M16 involvement.

Bollyn iterates that Henriksson's radio interview spurred an outcry from the Swedish public concerned about public risk and Johan Hirschfeldt a high court judge was appointed by the Swedish prime minister to specifically investigate whether the equipment transported on the MS Estonia was explosive. Hirschfeldt reported the transported equipment was not explosive and remarked that military defense transfers and intelligence activities are state secret by law; in fact it was illegal for people in the know to discuss covert activities and added all documents relating to transportation of defense material and intelligence activities had been destroyed 10 years ago as per regulations. Even he was not at liberty to discuss what he had learned and furthermore any existing information relating to these matters had to remain classified for 70 years.

All in all this is a short list of strange and unusual behaviour relating to the sinking of the MS Estonia and its aftermath. The disappearance of 9 crew members including Captain Avo Piht who was off duty the night of the disaster but whose name was recorded as a survivor in a helicopter log book is yet another unsolved piece of the puzzle. Whether Mr. Bollyn is prone to hallucinations and fantasy or whether he is a brave investigative journalist is a lingering question laden with intrigue. He certainly has a compelling writing style and fastidiously details his evidence in a most persuasive manner.

The other night I heard Tom Smothers of Smothers Brothers' fame articulate a statement that at first struck me as amusing before it smacked a serious chord. "Truth is what you get other people to believe."
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