Monday, November 27, 2006

Shiptalk.com - the world's leading seafarer's portal - have kindly published some of our comments on their site. These and other interesting articles can be accessed at:

Friday, November 24, 2006

The Design Defect


For a pictorial explanation of the design defect on the Gaul, please follow this link: http://webzoom.freewebs.com/inconvenientcitizen/Gaul%20design%20fault.pdf

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

What is this all about?



The Hull trawler Gaul sank in 1974 with the loss of all 36 crew. The wreck was located in 1997, surveyed in 1998 and 2002; and, in 2004, a formal investigation concluded that the vessel had capsized due to flooding through the duff and offal chutes, which had all been left open by the crew.
The panel tasked with conducting the formal investigation were prepared to consider a multitude of other possible causes for the loss of the vessel, including the most spectacular:
… seizure, scuttling, fire, collision, explosion, missile attack, torpedo attack, striking a mine, icing, cargo shift, structural failure, grounding, snagging a seabed cable or a submarine…
But not an obvious design defect in the construction and arrangement of the vessel’s waste disposal chutes!!
We can now disclose that the design fault that has been discussed at length on these pages is not in fact new evidence. This had been revealed to the government some time ago, in fact, prior to the MAIB’s underwater survey in 2002.
And the government is still, even now, unwilling to discuss this alternative - what are their motives?

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Comments from MAIB

We have received a response from the Marine Accident Investigation Branch. Please see HERE.
Nose-thumbing

As the reply from the DfT (see HERE) failed to reveal the scientific arguments behind the Department's decision to disregard 'new' evidence of a design fault on the Gaul, and to ignore calls for re-opening the investigation, I telephoned the Treasury Solicitor to find out his latest views on the subject.
Two months after he had become aware of the evidence in question (so as not to say four years), the Treasury Solicitor still appeared incredulous towards our claim that the findings of the RFI were unsound, and professed, once again, his unshaken belief in the merits of the formal investigation.
Showing that he was far too wordly-wise to be driven down a conversational cul-de-sac, my interlocutor skilfully managed to avoid either accepting our suggestions or providing technical counter-arguments by way of rebuttal.
And, to prove that he had more than one arrow in his advocatorial bow, he now informed me that the criticism we had expressed towards the RFI could not be taken into consideration in the absence of an official written submission (i.e. in paper format) by the author and proper reinforcement by the scientific community - requirements which would obviously delay matters.
Impishly enjoying laying down these obstructions, the Treasury Solicitor went on to give the impression that the Attorney General's office was not normally in the business of examining new evidence and facilitating the establishment of the truth in public inquiries, unless forced to do so under group pressures.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Do you have any problem with the truth?


LISTEN HERE

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

New Parliamentary Questions and Answers (part 2.)

1 Nov 2006
FV Gaul
Sandra Gidley: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport if he will examine recent evidence and decide whether the formal investigation into the loss of the FV Gaul should be re-opened. [97993]
Dr. Ladyman: The Re-opened formal investigation into the loss of the FV Gaul was
conducted with unprecedented thoroughness. The evidence was scrutinised by leading experts in the fields of oceanography, naval architecture and engineering
There is no reason to doubt the outcome of the expert analysis that led to the RFI’s conclusions, and consequently there is no reason to reopen the investigation.
.......................................................................................................
Asked the same question by us, the DfT send us the following answer in their letter dated 7.11.06:
The investigation was conducted with unprecedented thoroughness on behalf of the FV Gaul’s crew, her master and mate, and the Department for Transport (DfT). The evidence – which included video footage of the wreck, as well as new model tests carried out at MARIN in the Netherlands – was scrutinised by leading experts in the fields of oceanography, naval architecture and engineering.
Whilst acknowledging the criticism that has been expressed towards the findings of the RFI, there is no reason to doubt the outcome of the thorough and expert analysis that led to the report’s conclusions and consequently there is no reason to reopen the investigation).
........................................................................................................
Gadfly: The Secretary of State for Transport was, in fact, asked whether or not he was going to examine the recent evidence, which pointed to a design defect in the construction and arrangement of the duff and offal chutes on the Gaul, and decide on the need therefore, of re-opening the formal investigation.
Dodging the actual question, the minister refers instead to the other, former, evidence, which was presented during the 2004 formal investigation, and which, he states, was scrutinised by leading experts
*.
The minister knows very well that as long as there is no official appraisal of the evidence that we have provided, there is no need to reconsider the outcome of the Re-opened Formal Investigation.
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* As a matter of interest, it should be explained that the evidence that was admitted during the 2004 formal investigation was collected and reviewed by the Treasury Solicitor (who acted under instructions from the Attorney General) prior to being brought to the attention of the retained experts.
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***
'When I use a word,' Humpty Dumpty said, in rather a scornful tone, 'it means just what I choose it to mean—neither more nor less.
''The question is,' said Alice, 'whether you can make words mean so many different things.
''The question is,' said Humpty Dumpty, 'which is to be master—that's all.'

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Letter from the Department for Transport

We have recently received an emailed reply from the Department for Transport (DfT):

http://www.freewebs.com/inconvenientcitizen/dftletter7nov.htm

The reply was of unattributed authorship and did not bear the usual DfT logo and header. Anyway, we assume that its contents would have been given some form of ministerial approval prior to dispatch.
The response was entirely as expected, apart from the disappointment of having taken nearly eight weeks to draw up.
The reply fails to address the design fault issue that was put forward in our paper, but merely reiterates the conclusions of the RFI. The DfT also carefully avoids to comment on whether this fault in the duff and offal chutes has been examined (either prior, during or subsequent to the 2004 investigation).
Now, we would like, in our turn, to comment on some of the points that are made by the Department:
“The investigation was conducted with unprecedented thoroughness………. The evidence……… was scrutinised by leading experts in the fields of oceanography, naval architecture and engineering.”
Yes, the investigation was thorough, but not consistently so. The critical areas – i.e. the duff and offal chutes - were not examined in depth.
“…….the FV Gaul and her sister ships were built under Lloyd’s approval, with the same duff and offal chutes design. On the sister ships these chutes survived under similar conditions and were retained until the end of their service.”
Ipse dixit. However, we don’t quite accept that the validity of a claim automatically follows from the authority of its source.
As to the sister vessels, the Department’s argument, which suggests that the design was satisfactory, is not sound. Our posting of 8 November (below) explains why.
18.17 … it is important to note that although both chutes were found to be open both in way of the non-return flap and the internal top cover, there is no known mechanical reason why this was so. Both could have been closed or, if jammed, could have been freed. In any event the top lids exhibited nothing during the 2002 survey to prevent them from being closed and secured using the butterfly clips.
The design and operation of the chutes was therefore considered by the RFI.”
The information given to the DfT shows that there are credible alternative reasons, for the covers and flaps to be open.
Yes, the design and operation of the chutes was considered, but only in passing and not along the lines suggested in our paper.
“Whilst acknowledging the criticism that has been expressed towards the findings of the RFI, there is no reason to doubt the outcome of the thorough and expert analysis that led to the report’s conclusions and consequently there is no reason to reopen the investigation.”
We disagree. Reasons for re-examining the outcome of the formal investigation are presented in our paper, which is published online at:
and it was emailed to DfT on the 4/9/06.
The paper is detailed; it includes pictorial explanations and evidence of shortfalls in the RFI.
Here is an extract from the 1995 Merchant Shipping Act, which will remind the Minister that the possibility of getting it wrong, the first or even second time around, has been anticipated and provided for in law:
Re-hearing of and appeal from investigations

269.—(1) Where a formal investigation has been held under section 268 the Secretary of State may order the whole or part of the case to be re-heard, and shall do so—
(a) if new and important evidence which could not be produced at the investigation has been discovered; or
(b) if there appear to the Secretary of State to be other grounds for suspecting that a miscarriage of justice may have occurred.
“In closing, I would like to echo the sentiments expressed in the RFI’s overview, that the crew of the Gaul should now be left to rest in peace undisturbed by the speculation created by their dramatic disappearance.”
The government’s argumentum ad misericordiam to defend the outcome of the RFI is inappropriate and, considering that this put the blame squarely upon the victims, rather cynical.

Sunday, November 12, 2006

New Parliamentary Questions and Answers (part 1.)

1 November 2006

Torremolinos Convention
Sandra Gidley: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what plans he has to ratify the International Marine Organisation’s Torremolinos Convention. [97992]
Dr. Ladyman: European Directive 97/70/EC implemented a harmonised safety regime based on the 1993 Torremolinos Protocol. The safety standards were subsequently enhanced by Directive 2002/35/EC. The Government consider these standards exceed the requirements of the Protocol and that its ratification is therefore no longer necessary.
Gadfly: It is suggested that there are three reasons why the UK should attach more importance to the 1977 Convention and 1993 Protocol:
1. Safety: There are about 24,000 fatalities in the world fishing industry annually. While the UK fishing fleet meets the safety provisions that are required by the Torremolinos Convention, failure to ratify this Convention at the International level contributes to the fact that sub-standard, foreign flagged vessels and fishermen will continue to be lost.
2. Economic: The UK‘s fishermen have to operate within a regime that is tightly regulated and this has a price. They also have to compete in a world market in which unregulated vessels, having lower overheads, are also able to land fish and this both reduces fish stocks and undermines market prices.
3. Environmental: It is important that fish stocks are regulated effectively and fairly. In this respect, illegal, unregulated and unreported fishing (IUU) continues to be a major problem and one that is contributing to the collapse of fish stocks both in the EU and globally. Ratification and implementation of the Torremolinos Convention is considered by both the IMO (International Maritime Organisation) and the FAO (Food and Agriculture Organisation) to be a key plank in the fight against IUU.
As the Minister advises, the UK has already implemented the EU safety regime, based on Torremolinos, which governs safety matters within the UK’s fishing fleet. Ratification of this Convention at the IMO is a necessary formality that will impose no additional costs on the UK Fishing Industry.
More Parliamentary Questions, Answers and Comments to come...

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Sister Vessels

Yesterday we received a letter from the DfT purporting to answer our previous queries. We will publish it on this site and comment on its contents shortly. For starters, we are addressing the department’s inference that there was no design defect on the Gaul, because the sister vessels, with the same design, did not sink.
“… it should be remembered that the FV Gaul and her sister ships were built under Lloyd’s approval, with the same duff and offal chutes design. On the sister ships these chutes survived under similar conditions and were retained until the end of their service.” (Letter from the DfT dated 07.11.06)
The above comments imply that the duff and offal chutes gave satisfactory trouble free service throughout the lives of the sister vessels. A closer look into this matter shows that, in fact, this is not quite the case:
The Gaul had three sister vessels: Arab, Kelt and Kurd. These vessels are still in service, but none is currently working as a trawler.
Available records show:
1. That the Kappin (ex Arab) is currently working as a fish processing factory freezer ship off the Greenland coast.
The Arab was sold in 1983 and converted into a support depot ship for submersibles; in 1984 it was converted back into a stern trawler. The vessel continued to work as a stern trawler until early 2006 when it was converted into a fish factory ship.
A very good photo of this vessel can be viewed at:
http://www.shipspotting.com/modules/myalbum/photo.php?lid=235426
The vessel was visited in 2003, by the retained experts for the RFI for the purposes of obtaining information that could be of use to the Investigation. The vessels crew were also quizzed at that time (ref. Technical paper presented by the retained experts ‘The loss of the MFV Gaul’ - http://www.bctq.com/isleman.html)
“As part of the RFI, a party visited the FV KAPPIN, a sister vessel to GAUL still fishing from the Faroes. Discussion with the crew revealed that flooding of the factory deck was a recurrent problem. This had been dealt with in part by installing deep well pumps and blanking off the forward offal chute. Even so, crew recounted serious flooding incidents as a direct result of water coming through the aft duff chute. Fortunately this was never catastrophic.”
Does this mean that the crew of the Kappin have also been leaving the chute flaps and covers open?
2. That the Bergen Surveyor (ex Kelt) is currently working as a seismic survey vessel for Norwegian owners.
The Kelt was sold in 1982 and initially converted into a support depot ship for submersibles; in 1997 it was converted into a seismic survey vessel.
A very good photo of this vessel can be viewed at:
http://www.shipspotting.com/modules/myalbum/photo.php?lid=63966
It is most likely that the duff and offal chute openings would have been removed at the time of time of its initial conversion in 1982 (support vessels do not need arrangements for the discharge of duff and offal). The picture shows that, in its current guise, the chute openings are no longer present.
3. That the Southern Surveyor (ex Kurd) is currently working as a marine research vessel and is owned by the Australian Government. The factory deck on this vessel has been converted into a laboratory.
The Kurd was sold in 1983 and initially converted into a support depot ship for submersibles; in 1988 it was converted into a research vessel.
A very good photo of this vessel can be viewed at: http://www.marine.csiro.au/nationalfacility/images/1shipside_lge.jpg
It is most likely that the duff and offal chutes would have been removed at the time of its initial conversion in 1983. The picture above shows that, in its current guise, the chute openings are no longer present.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

The Formal Investigation

John Prescott (upper) & Justice David Steel (lower)


Attorney Generall- Lord Goldsmith

We will be responding soon to the letter received from the Department for Transport

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

The Sergeant Schultz Syndrome

I have been in touch with a senior Maritime Accident Investigation Branch (MAIB) source, who had been involved in the preparation of the Gaul case prior to the 2004 formal investigation.
Asked whether the MAIB had provided information to the wreck commissioner (i.e justice david steel) in respect of the patent design defect in the construction and arrangement of the duff and offal chutes on the Gaul, he would say neither Yes nor No.
As to the pre-investigation deliberations that had taken place between MAIB and other experts on the subject of the faults in the construction of the chutes he had no clear recollection.
Whilst in other cases the MAIB would collect evidence and provide analysis on the causes and circumstances of a marine accident, in the Gaul case, I am told, the MAIB provided the documentary evidence, but left the government’s retained experts to formulate their own conclusions. The MAIB, my interlocutor said, was in a difficult situation vis-รก- vis the Gaul case.
I wonder why.