The areas coloured in orange represent the critical down-flooding openings, which were deemed to have played a part in the loss of the Gaul.
The areas coloured in blue (the funnel vents) are also critical in the down-flooding scenario, although these are meant to be kept open at all times.
The duff and offal chutes were found open on the wreck. The 2004 RFI concluded therefore that they had been left open by the crew.
As we have attempted to demonstrate on these pages and in the attached documents, the chutes’ outer flaps had a design fault, while their inner covers could not provide sufficient protection against flooding.
The fish loading hatches and the net store hatch, as our previous post explained, could have been opened by air pressure or by the force of internal floodwater acting on them from inside the vessel.
The RFI panel’s opinion, however, was that these hatches, also, had been left unsecured by the crew and had opened due to gravity when the vessel was sinking.
The engine room escape door, the RFI surmised, had been opened by one of the crew when trying to escape from the lower deck at the time of the incident.
In the absence of any contrary evidence, the hypothesis that this door had been opened by air pressure is again more probable.
The RFI panel concluded that the access door to the accommodation space, also, had been left open by the crew; and we can contend again that trapped air pressure or internal floodwater pressure could have opened it just as well.
As to the factory deck access door the RFI concluded, this time on the basis of some tangible evidence, that the crew had failed to secure it in the closed position.
All in all, the only conclusion we can draw from the dubious RFI findings is that the 2004 investigation panel was too eager to suggest a pattern of widespread crew negligence and to lay the blame for the loss of the Gaul on the victims to bother about plausibility.
Ignoring the existence of alternative explanations, underpinned by simple scientific principles, the RFI panel chose to put forward a loss scenario that was not only unsupported by any credible evidence, but also defied common sense.