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?


peter said...

there's more to this story than you think.
who profits? just follow the money.

moby nick said...

i never trusted that farce called formal inquiry. i have the greatest respect for all seamen but not for that deckhand john prescott. he made a mess of it.
i've been a seaman for many years and never seen such a silly valve like those on the gaul.

Carmichael said...

A thing is obvious mathematically after you see it.

Anonymous said...

I was involved with the investigation of technical side to this inquiry. The design of the duff and offal chutes was adequate if they were checked and maintained regularly, but when left without maintenance, were prone to corrosion and jamming. These chutes jammed into the 'open' position without being noticed by the crew, and in so doing, allowed about 100 tonnes of water into the fish room during the night, with disasterous consequences to the vessel's stability. The water in the fish room was noticed too late, and during a heavy roll or turn to present the stern into a wave (the steering nozzle was set to abt.30 deg), the vessel rolled onto her side, and started to admit large amounts of water into the accomodation and engine room through a ventilator opening. Its a very straight forward mistake to have made, but all fishermen and operators should be aware of openings below the main watertight deck jamming to an 'open' position. That is why this vessel sank. It is as simple as this. The evidence on the seabed and last communications from the ship clearly showed this trail of events. The vessel was not fishing at the time, and so therefore could not have snagged a cable on the seabed. The fishing gear was correctly stowed on deck.

gadfly said...


We are aware of the findings of the Re-opened Formal Investigation, which you reiterate above and which cannot be justified from a technical viewpoint.

* There were no 'last communications' from the ship showing the trail of events that the RFI established, as we all know very well (!).

* The openings were not below, but above the main 'watertight' deck.

* Strange to assume that the "chutes jammed into the open position" and that shore staff and crew members failed to notice this fact for a period of at least two months.

* The evidence on the seabed can be interpreted as being more in favour of the other scenarious, which are mentioned in the factor tree diagram published on our sites.

More about the faults of the Gaul and of the RFI will follow very soon.

In the meantime, you may find it worthwhile to read the full technical report at: and the other .pdf files also published on that site.