While the reason the Egyptian ferry sank is not officially known yet, a maritime consultant says there may be evidence as to why it went down.
Wesley Wheeler is the founder of Wheeler Associates in Stamford, Connecticut. Mr. Wheeler is an engineer and has a Master’s degree in marine engineering and naval architecture. From Los Angeles, he spoke to English to Africa’s Joe De Capua about the ship, based on recent pictures.
“Of course, it would be necessary to have the full drawings of the vessel and all of the technical details, including the stability booklet, but my initial reaction was the ship appears to have been converted at some point, where at least two or three decks were added above the original decks. And this is quite obvious from the picture that’s been shown on Fox News. That being the case, there’s a very good possibility that with the large number of passengers and pilgrims on board that there could have been a stability problem, which is tremendously exacerbated when you have very high winds and dust storm,” he says.
Asked how converting the ship would affect stability, Wheeler says, “It raises the center of gravity and when you do that obviously it becomes what you would call top heavy.”
The maritime consultant says tests should have been conducted to determine the ship’s stability after the decks were added, if indeed they were. He says whether the ship can be raised as part of the investigation will depend on how deep the water is. But the first thing that should be done, he says, is “to obtain the requisite drawings probably through Lloyd’s Register and the owners themselves and make an initial stability estimate as to the loading conditions at the time of the incident.”