This is to wish you all a Happy New Year and to let you know that we have just published a new post on the MV Derbyshire blog .
In this latest commentary we show that the hatch covers on the Derbyshire complied neither with the minimum strength requirements of the International Load Line Convention 66 nor with the standards of Lloyd’s Register of Shipping that were in force at the time of the vessel’s build. These non-compliances, which could have been a crucial factor in the loss of the vessel, were ‘overlooked’ during 2000 RFI, the final report of which stated: “7.16 At the time of the DERBYSHIRE’s last voyage her hatch covers complied with the minimum strength requirements of ILLC 66 and of the Lloyd’s Register of Shipping Rules”, and concluded that it was a severe deficiency within those standards that allowed the vessel’s hatch covers to be built with inadequate strength, thus making their failure and the subsequent loss of the vessel in heavy seas possible.
However, independent strength calculations (presented in detail on the MV Derbyshire blog), carried out both through classical methods and by means of finite element analysis, show that the strength of the hatch covers fell short even of the minimum requirements that were set in those “deficient” 1966 standards.
Whether or not the vessel would have been lost if the construction of the hatch covers had conformed to the rules applicable at that time - insufficient as they were - is, furthermore, debateable. Placing the blame on the ‘regulations’, however, as the 2000 RFI so kindly did, made further debate redundant and removed the risk of subsequent commercial litigation for the vessel’s Shipbuilders and the Classification Society.
 The Derbyshire Re-opened Formal Investigation bears many similarities with the Gaul Re-opened Formal Investigation – not the least of which is the fact that both investigations were presided over by judges who were acknowledged experts in the field of maritime commercial litigation.
Why was it that these two public inquiries, supposedly aimed only at finding the truth, were set up in this way?