Still unsolved, though, is the riddle of the 'phantom captain'. Does he lie at the bottom of the Baltic Sea, the dark but honourable fate colleagues in Tallinn insist is most likely, or has he become a Baltic Lord Jim, somehow saved from the sinking ship and now on the run from authorities and his own conscience?
Convinced that Mr Piht is alive are his wife, Sirye, son Egon and close friends, now gathered at the family flat in the suburbs of Tallinn to await what they consider an imminent phonecall.
'Estonia is the most successful state in central Europe,' declared President Meri, in an interview with the Independent on Sunday at his brick and stone mansion outside Tallinn on Friday night.
'Is the fact of this ship going down somehow a symbol of our nation's fate?
On him and a tiny cadre of other Estonian officers rested the promise of Estonia one day recovering a maritime tradition smothered for half a century by the Russians. The Estonians are braced by an exacting Lutheran faith and stiffened further by a deep conviction that they, more than any other former subjects of the Soviet Union, belong firmly in Europe.But he rated the possibility of Mr Piht having survived at 'one in a million'.When the ferry set out from the Estonian capital of Tallinn on Tuesday evening, Mr Piht was officially on board just for the ride.'We think, we know he is still living,' said Elve Vailmar.'This is not the first time he has gone away for a long time. All we can do is wait.' She said television pictures had clearly shown his face.