Thursday, August 30, 2007

Archimedes, Boyle and Newton - expert witnesses in the Gaul Investigation

The 2004 Gaul RFI concluded that:

- The design of the duff and offal chutes on the Gaul was satisfactory to prevent the ingress of seawater onto the factory deck. (RFI final report, page 285)

- At the time of the loss, there was no physical reason why the watertight covers could not have been closed and secured. (RFI final report, page 286)

Additionally, it was assumed that, apart from leaving open the closures of the duff and offal chutes, the crew on the Gaul had also left unsecured a number of other important weathertight hatches and doors – all during a major storm. (!!!)
(This ‘everything was left open’ assumption was possibly meant to reinforce the RFI panel’s theory of crew negligence: i.e. if the trawlermen had left so many things unsecured, leaving the chutes open would be less surprising – just part of the general pattern.)

But why would the 36 experienced crewmembers do such reckless things? Save for the unlikely possibility that they all ran amok that day, what explanation could there be for such weird behaviour?
Yet, the 2004 Investigation panel decided that the crew had ignored all those protections to the safety of their ship and of their own lives.
No scientific explanation was found, although simple scientific explanations do exist - if you are willing to look for them.

In support of these alternative explanations, we are able to present the evidence given by our expert witnesses: Sir Isaac Newton, Messrs Archimedes of Syracuse and Robert Boyle.
The physical laws established by these honourable gentlemen could be used to prove the existence of alternative loss scenarios. We have already done this for the closing arrangements on the duff and offal chutes on the Gaul, which, we demonstrated, could have easily been opened by the forces of the sea. Bearing in mind that these laws govern cause and effect, it can be similarly demonstrated that a number of other important hatches and doors on the Gaul could have been burst open by the maelstrom of forces unleashed on them as floodwater surged from compartment to compartment, while the vessel was sinking in heavy seas. (More about this will be said in a separate post)

However, once one accepts that other plausible explanations exist, the general crew-negligence scenario, that the 2004 RFI panel seem to have stapled themselves to, becomes increasingly doubtful. To say the least...

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