Silja Europa ferry accidents and incidents

Silja Europa ferry cruise ship


Length (LOA)
202 m / 663 ft

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CruiseMapper's Silja Europa ferry cruise ship accidents, incidents and law news reports relate to a 3123-passenger vessel owned by TALLINK-SILJA LINE (Ferries). Our Silja Europa ferry accidents page contains reports made by using official data from renown online news media sources, US Coast Guard and Wikipedia.

Here are also reported latest updates on cruise law news related to ashore and shipboard crimes still investigated by the police. Among those could be arrests, filed lawsuits against the shipowner / cruise line company, charges and fines, grievances, settled / withdrawn legal actions, lost cases, virus outbreaks, etc.

  • fire - 2001
  • aground - 1995 (near Furusund Island, Sweden)
  • pier collision/allision - 1997 (with sailboat), 1998 (in Mariehamn, Aland)
  • propulsion/power loss - 2000, 2001, 2009
  • deaths - overboard (1996), 2019
  • injuries/crimes - 2002 (overboard / rescued)

In September 1994 the vessel assisted the rescue operation during MS Estonia shipwreck disaster.

October 2021Other Incidents

In 2021, the shipowner Tallink Grupp (via Landry & Kling Global Cruise Services) chartered two cruiseferries to serve as hotel ships at the held in Glasgow "UN Climate Change Conference" (aka COP26 / UN's 26th, held between Oct 31  - Nov 12).

In Port Glasgow (Scotland UK) Silja Europa (chartered for the period October 21 - November 14) was joined by the fleetmate Tallink Romantika (charter period October 15 - November 15).

19 October 2019Crew / Passenger Deaths

In the early morning on October 20, 2019, after the cruise ship docked in homeport Tallinn (Estonia), the bodies of two dead passengers were found onboard - a 25-year-old female and a 21-year-old male, both Finnish citizens. According to the Estonian police report, the first body was discovered at ~3 am (Oct 20), while the second was discovered at ~4 am. The incident occurred during the 22-hour crossing from Finland to Estonia (Helsinki-Tallinn). Cruise passengers (staying overnight on the ferry) can disembark the ship in Tallinn and stay ashore between 8 am - 12-noon.

The deceased had traveled independently (in separate cabins, not close to each other) and were found alone in their staterooms when the cruseferry berthed in Port Tallinn at ~10 pm (October 19). Both bodies were discovered by ferry passengers. Both deaths were not related and didn't involve violence. The bodies were ambulanced for autopsies to determine the cause of death.

22 November 2009Propulsion / Power Loss

On November 22, 2009, while en-route to Turku from Stockholm, the ship's starboard rudder shaft broke down. In the early morning on November 23, towed by 2 tugboats the ferry arrived in Turku.

During the accident, the diesel engines were operational and the vessel was maneuverable. Due to repairs, all scheduled departures for November 23 through December 1 were canceled (all booked tickets fully refunded).

28 September 2002Crew / Passenger Injuries and Overboards

(overboard / rescued) On September 28, 2002, a female passenger fell overboard from the ship. The woman swam to a nearby islet, from where she was later rescued.

02 October 2001Fire Accident

On October 2, 2001, the ship reported a passenger cabin fire accident. It was extinguished by the crew quickly. Instead of Kapellskar (Sweden), the vessel was redirected to Stockholm where the police arrested a male passenger.

18 March 2001Structural and Technical Issues

On March 18, 2001, upon arriving in homeport Turku, the ship experienced problems with the Autopilot Control System. Also, the Vessel Management System started giving continuous false alarms and the ship started to circle in the harbor. The ship docked in Turku assisted by 3 tugboats. The next scheduled cruise was canceled due to repairs.

19 July 2000Propulsion / Power Loss

On July 19, 2000, the vessel experienced propulsion issues with one of the propellers and was taken out of service for 5-day drydock repairs (at Turku shipyard). As the problem was not fixed, the ship was moved to the Helsinki shipyard.

21 November 1998Ship Collision / Allision

On November 21, 1998, at ~2 am, while maneuvering for berthing at Port at Mariehamn (Aland), due to a strong squall the ship crashed into the pier.

The vessel received minor hull damage. No injuries were reported.

Note: Actually, this type of marine accident is called “allision” (striking a fixed object) as opposed to “collision” (striking another vessel).

20 August 1997Ship Collision / Allision

On August 20, 1997, due to fog, the ferry collided with a sailboat south of Lemland (Aland).

Boat's both passengers (a German couple) and their dog were rescued alive via one of the ferry's lifeboats. The sailboat was also saved (towed to Degerby, Stockholm).

10 October 1996Crew / Passenger Deaths

(overboard) In the early morning on October 10, 1996, the ferry was en route to Stockholm when a male passenger reported seeing a man jumping overboard. The Captain informed Kustbevakningen (Swedish Coast Guard) but didn't stop the ship. A coast guard vessel found the female passenger. Unfortunately, on October 12 she died of hypothermia. The Captain was prosecuted and found guilty, but not sentenced.

13 January 1995Ship Grounding

On January 13, 1995, the ship ran aground near Furusund Island (Sweden). The accident was caused by a failure of the vessel's Automatic Speed Control system. The arrived in Stockholm under its own power, then was taken out of service for drydock repairs (at Naantali, Finland).

28 September 1994Boat Rescue

On September 28, 1994, Viking Mariella was the first vessel arriving at the scene to assist the sinking MS Estonia (1980-built cruise ferry). This shipwreck disaster is ranked Europe's second-deadliest (after RMS Titanic) and the world's 3rd (after "MS Al-Salam Boccaccio 98" sinking) as it resulted in a total of 852 dead. The Mariella ship managed to pick up 15 survivors from the sea, plus another 11 brought by rescue helicopters as the ferry was used as main helicopter platform at the scene.

The disaster occurred between 0:55-1:50 am in Baltic Sea, as MS Estonia was en-route from Tallinn to Stockholm carrying a total of 989 people (803 passengers plus 186 crew). Being fully loaded, since the departure from Tallinn (7 pm, Sept 27), the ship was slightly listing to starboard due to poor cargo distribution.

The weather was reportedly rough - with strong winds (up to 70 kph / 45 mph) and high waves (up to 6 m / 20 ft). At ~1 am, the crew on MS Estonia heard a loud bang caused by a wave hitting its bow doors. The inspection was limited to checking the ramp's indicator lights and visor, which showed no problems. Over the next 10 min, similar metallic bangs were reported by both passengers and crew. At ~1:15 am, the bow door's visor separated, and the vessel immediately started heavily to list to starboard (initially to 40 degrees). By 1:30 am, the listing was 90 degrees and the water flooded the car deck. The vessel was turned to portside and slowed before it lost power completely.

At ~1:20 am was sounded the lifeboat alarm. The liner's rapid listing and flooding prevented many passengers in cabins from ascending to muster stations on the boat deck. At 01:22 am was issued the distress call, but it didn't follow international formats. The ship directed a call to Silja Europa and only after making this contact Estonia's radio operator utter "Mayday". In English, Silja Europa's radio operator replied: "Estonia, are you calling mayday?", after which the conversation shifted to Finnish. Due to the blackout on Estonia, the ship's exact position was not indicated, which also delayed the rescue. Some minutes later the position was received by the ferries Silja Europa and Mariella.

At ~1:50 am, MS Estonia disappeared from the radars of other vessels. The ship sank in international waters, approx 41 km / 25 ml from Utö island (Finland) to the depth of 85 m (279 ft).

For the rescue operation's on-scene commander was assigned the Captain of Silja Europa (Esa Makela). Mariella was the first of all 5 assisting ferries, arriving at the scene at 2:12 am. The full-scale emergency was declared at 2:30 am. Mariella deployed its liferafts into the water onto which 13 people on Estonia's liferafts were transferred. The ship also reported the location of other liferafts to the dispatched rescue helicopters (from both Sweden and Finland), the first of which arrived at 3:05 am. The Swedish helicopters transported survivors to shore, while Finnish helicopters started risky landings on the ferries' helipads.

Of all the 989 passengers on MS Estonia, 138 were rescued alive (1 later died in hospital). The assisting ships rescued 34, and the helicopters - 104. Unfortunately, due to rough seas, the ferries didn't launch their MOBs (rescue boats) and lifeboats.

Accident's death toll was 852 - 501 Swedes, 285 Estonians, 17 Latvians, 10 Finns, plus 44 of different nationalities (Belarus, Canada, France, Holland, Nigeria, Ukraine, USA, UK, Morocco, Lithuania, Denmark, Norway, Germany, Russia). Most died by drowning or hypothermia. Of all the dead, only 94 bodies were recovered. Most of the survivors were young males, of strong constitution. About 650 people were still inside the ship when it sank and remained there.

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