Traffic in the waters between Finland and Estonia is plotted by the Finnish Border Watch, and the surveillance is carried out from different radar stations. One of the main stations is the Utö Fort Radar Station. According to the Finnish Border Watch (98.11.03) the situation 28.09.94 at 01.30 was the following: M/S Estonia was from the time she left Tallinn in the Finnish Radar surveillance area together with the other ships; M/S Silja Europa, M/S Silja Symphony, M/S Mariella, GTS Finnjet, M/S Finnhansa, M/S Isabella. M/S Estonia disappeared from the Utö Fort Radar at 01.48.
Radar tracks from all other ships during the disaster have been reported
in the final report from the JAIC. Regarding M/S Estonia there are no tracks
what so ever to be found. From Utö Fort they say they have lost the
book with the tracks from M/S Estonia this night. No other tracking from
her journey has been found.
From USENET, Date: 01 Oct 1994
According to today's papers (Ilta-Sanomat) the ship seems to have been in trouble already over on hour before the distress signal. A female radar operator on duty in Utö fort had noticed that the ship had gradually gone astray from its normal route so that by the time of the distress signal the ship was already about 15 km south off the course and the signal was quite weak. The operator was surprised that the ship had not called for help earlier if they had problems. The ship had obviously had both engine and electrical problems. It remains a mystery why the crew on the bridge delayed the alarm, didn't they realize how serious the situation was?
At 12.00 EET (=Finnish time) the captain changes course from west to more south and decreases the speed from 15-16 knots to eight knots.This can be verified by the Utö fort radar station's observations.
Shortly before 01.00 EET the speed was lowered to five knots. This again according to Utö radar observations. The ship maintained this speed the rest of the time.
At 01.10 EET the captain starts to turn the ship to the right - obviously as an attempt to turn the stern to the wind - but due to low speed and excess water on the car deck the ship has lost much of its maneuverability and turns slowly. When the ship is sideways to the wind the waves and the wind throw the water on the car deck on the right side and the ship lists heavily.