Sunday, April 27, 2008

Another bent thing and more damning evidence

If the evidence we have published so far may have presented “an ostensibly compelling case”, to use Mr Jim Fitzpatrick’s expression from a recent letter, the evidence we will be publishing from now on should provide the Minister for Transport with extra certainty. As, in the same letter, he claimed that the information we presented did not constitute the whole picture – a claim with which, for probably different reasons, we agree - we have decided to show you more of that ‘picture’.
In previous posts we have already argued that the RFI assessment, that the inner lids of the duff and offal chutes on the Gaul had been left open by the crew prior to the loss of the vessel, was unsound. The condition of the closing devices of the duff chute indicates that its inner cover was, in fact, closed when the tragedy struck.

We can now reveal that the split covers of the offal chute were also closed. The images below, captured from the 2002 underwater survey film footage, illustrate that the bar attached to one of the offal split covers, as their means of closure, was found in its place and deformed in a way consistent with it having undergone strong pressure from the underside.

This finding, which the RFI panel was aware of, supports the proposition that the inner lids of the duff and offal chutes on the Gaul had initially been closed by the crew, but were burst open by the force of the incoming waves, at the time of the loss.

We have also constructed a model of the offal chute and tested it against the effects of water pressure acting on the underside of its inner lids. We used this model to replicate the damage to the securing bar, as observed in the images from the wreck of the Gaul. The photo below shows the result.

More to come...

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

8 ½ Britain

We live in a surreal political climate, filled with the symbols and atmosphere of Fellini’s famous movie: 8 ½.

Fantasy overlaps reality. At one stage, we are offered the lurid details of Saraghina’s coarsely voluptuous dance on the beach; where, completely out of mind, she performs the rumba in exchange for a coin, tantalising the viewers with her flabby undulations and lascivious appetite.

Then we see the revolt in the harem, where a group of women rise in protest against the director – the man who hired them. In the end, they will be quelled with a bullwhip.
The main characters have unfinished scripts and start changing their roles. The production team gets restless while awaiting direction. The spirit of collaboration turns into internal strife, causing chaos and confusion. Money has been spent, but the sets are dormant. The director struggles to reconcile his vision with the frustrating dependence on external factors. Financial pressures, his staff’s egos and attacks from the press are compounding his problems. Anonymous characters - ordinary people - appear trapped in a traffic jam, going nowhere. The atmosphere gets gloomy.

Saraghina! The rumba!” and the fat woman emerges again from the ruins of a concrete bunker, displaying the vestiges of her fleshy charms and her insatiable lust for attention.

Guido, the film director can be seen floating high in the air, his ankle tethered by a rope, one end of which is being held firmly by the Screenwriter.

Don’t expect anything from the governing party; right now, they are busy performing.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008


In a recent letter sent by the Department for Transport, Mr Jim Fitzpatrick, the Minister for Shipping, rather than answering our specific questions, took his turn in restating the government’s belief in the results of 2004 Gaul Formal Investigation.
This time round, however, he also claimed that that there was some additional evidence in support of the RFI conclusions - evidence that has never been publicised, which, for some reason, he assumes that we have not yet seen, and which, if it is to be attached any credence, will need to defy the observable facts.
This material was not revealed during the two Gaul formal inquiries, nor did it come to the knowledge of the naval architect who, as an employee of the MCA, has carried out research into the loss of the Gaul since 2002. The DfT claim that they are in possession of this ‘elusive’ evidence, but, alas, … they are not showing it.
Having wondered for almost four years, how the RFI panel had derived their conclusions – whether they had come from esoteric knowledge or from some nebulous fluffs – we are now being told that, basically, it was on this undisclosed evidence that the RFI findings were based. Hmm! Why bother then going through such expensive formal proceedings if that was really the case?
Our curiosity stirred, we would have liked to challenge Mr Fitzpatrick to show us the proof. After all, formal investigations are meant to be public affairs (with disclosure of all relevant facts), held in the public interest.
The Minister, however, seemed unwilling, and, anxious to put a stop to any further questions, he gravely informed us about the wishes of the deceased: “the crew of the Gaul should now be left to rest in peace, undisturbed by the speculation created by their dramatic disappearance”. We must not awake the ghosts and revive the sorrows of the past.

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Six stages in the life of a New Labour politician

The first stage is, if we may call it so, the virginal stage - that is the season of grand promises, populist overtures and effusion. (In the FV Gaul inquiry saga, this would be the time when the families of the Gaul crew were promised a thorough and honest investigation of the tragedy.)
The second stage we would call the temptation and fall stage, which would correspond with the time when the Labour politician, now in power and overwhelmed with the giddiness of high office, succumbs to temptation, reneges on his promises and gives in to shabby compromise and complacency. (In the Gaul case this is the time when the 2004 RFI took place and when the Labour government, in response to pressures from various quarters as well as out of cynical calculation, decided to skew the investigation in a way that would bar any future claims for compensation)
The third stage is when the Labour politician, now hardened and over-confident in his luck, is eventually caught red-handed. I suggest we could call this juncture the awakening stage, because this is the point when the public realise whom they are dealing with. (This is when disclosures challenging the outcome the 2004 Gaul RFI were brought to the attention of the public)
The fourth stage, which we might call the denial stage or the period of ‘angelic pharisaism’, is the stage when our politician fights back trying to save his image. This is the time of quibbles, protestations of innocence, ‘national interest’ arguments, disinformation, lies and, eventually, stonewalling. (In relation to the Gaul, this is the period when, confronted with embarrassing evidence, the government kept re-asserting their innocence and their faith in the results of the 2004 RFI.)
The next stage, and the most distressing, could be called the decomposition stage. That means that, too much having been already revealed, the Labour politician has no longer any appearance to preserve and is therefore no longer bothered to cloak his inadequacy. The time has now come when, since there is no honour or legitimacy left to hang on to, our politician clings only to his chair, and from the armrests of this chair no one can unclench his fingers. This is also the time when the dirtiest weapons in his arsenal are pulled out. (In respect of the Gaul inquiry, this is where we are now)
The final stage …it’s up to the rest of us

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Elastic conclusions or the re-writing of history

In an earlier POST we already mentioned one embellishment contained in a paper produced by the experts in the 2004 Gaul RFI
In that same paper, drawn up as a summary of the results of the formal investigation, the experts also went a step beyond the official findings and stated with conviction:
“There was no logical reason why the duff and offal chute lids were secured in the open position, whilst dodging, other than crew error. It is also difficult to understand why the flap valves were jammed in the open position other than bad maintenance onboard or ashore.”
The authors were, of course, well aware of the fact that the offal chute lids had not been found secured in the open position. They were also aware that it was only around the duff chute lid that some kind of ‘ligature’ had been seen hanging and, therefore, one could not truthfully say that both the duff and the offal chute lids had been secured open by the crew of the Gaul.
The RFI final report, having been drawn up by better-versed legal minds, went only as far as advising that:
“In the case of the duff chute, the single lid was apparently secured in the open position by some form of ligature and in the case of the offal chute the split lid was found with the forward half open and the aft half closed, but not secured.”
The RFI experts must have also realised that any future interested parties would be more likely to read their free paper rather than the costly and voluminous RFI report, and that their words may therefore be taken as fact.
In the light our previous post and the above observations we would ask our readers the following question: What can one make of these exaggerations, which, it so happened, had the effect of adding undeserved weight to the Court’s ‘crew error’ verdict?