Sunday, February 17, 2008

Another piece of misleading evidence

An important plank in the Attorney General’s case against the crew of the Gaul was the instilled notion that they were not experienced in operating trawlers fitted with hull openings for the discharge of fish processing waste.

The case made was that, because the crew had no experience of such ships, they would not have been able to appreciate the importance of such openings in relation to the vessel’s stability and watertight integrity. Their subsequent ‘errors’ in not maintaining the duff and offal chute’s flaps and ‘forgetting’ to close the inner covers could thus be more readily explained.

The Attorney General’s team developed this theme throughout the course of the hearings (see extracts from the transcripts of evidence in the DOCUMENT ATTACHED), and even went as far as providing a detailed general arrangement drawing for the freezer trawler Cassio (Appendix 7 of the final report), which showed, they said, that duff and offal chutes had not been fitted on that vessel.

A small point to note:

A ship’s general arrangement drawing carries a level of detail that is decided by the draughtsman with clarity, aesthetical and presentational aspects being important considerations. The general arrangement drawing that was presented as evidence to the Gaul RFI merely confirmed that duff and offal chute openings had not been indicated on that drawing, it did not confirm that they had not been provided on the vessel.

In a 1966 photograph of the Othello, possibly on sea trials, its duff and offal discharges, cut in the hull on the port side, can be seen just aft of the funnel and near to the waterline.

The freezer stern trawlers Cassio, Othello and Orsino were sister vessels, built by Yarrows of Glasgow in 1966. The Gaul’s Skipper, Peter Nellist, sailed on both the Cassio and the Orsino, while the Mate, Maurice Spurgeon, had sailed on the Othello immediately prior to joining the Gaul on her last voyage.

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