Thursday, December 23, 2010

FV Trident Investigation - the paper trail (part 3)

Some comments on the MAIB’s 'summary report'

Although in our previous post we advised that we wouldn’t like to embarrass the MAIB by commenting on the technical content of the summary document they recently released, having subsequently learned that, in September 2009, the MAIB had also tried to pass off this very same document to the relatives of the Trident’s crew as being a copy of Admiral Lang’s official report to the Secretary of State for Transport, we have decided that, in these circumstances, we ought to change our minds.

When we first received this document, a document we did not request, we questioned the MAIB’s Chief Inspector of Marine Accidents on its status and suitability for publication, we also suggested that the ‘report’ was incomplete, not impartial and that an inspector, who was probably not competent to make pronouncements on Trident’s stability, had drafted it.

We received the following reply:

…..My position is that you made a valid request for information that we hold. The report you refer to is in our files and, in my view, I was obliged to consider whether it could be released. I have made my decision in good faith…….. However, I do find offensive your suggestion that any MAIB employee was not impartial or was incompetent. In the 6 years I have worked for the Branch I have been more than impressed by the commitment, enthusiasm and pure talent of my staff……
………I do not intend to debate this issue with you any further.
(Steve Clinch, MAIB Chief Inspector)

A copy of this MAIB document is available in pdf format HERE; we have also reproduced a few representative paragraphs below, together with our comments – which question the MAIB’s impartiality and competence in matters pertaining to Trident’s stability:

Page 3

  • The most important point here (omitted by the Inspector) was that in 1975 the Court of Investigation had already concluded that the stability of the vessel was probably deficient; this was not mere speculation by the next of kin and the media.

Page 12

  • The Inspector has stated here that Trident’s sister vessel had only minor stability deficiencies and that when she sailed in a similar condition to the Trident (as lost), she had adequate stability – thus implying that Trident also had adequate stability. However, the Inspector has omitted to mention the fact that, in the conditions he quotes, the Silver Lining had already been provided with an additional 8 tons of pig iron ballast to counter her stability deficiencies - Trident did not have this ballast onboard at the time she was lost.
    Additionally, after having read the report of the 1975 Formal Investigation, his summary report should have taken account of the Court’s views on the Silver Lining’s stability (page 6):
    Without going in detail into the owner’s complaints regarding Silver Lining, it must be noted that despite the addition of 8 tons of ballast, her stability is still in considerable doubt.
  • On page 15 the Inspector also implies that, following Trident’s loss, the reason why Silver Lining was laid up and lengthened by 10 feet was because of factors other than deficient stability (i.e., difficulty in getting a crew and for insurance purposes, which are consequences of the vessel’s deficient stability rather than direct causes of her lay-up and lengthening).

Page 16

  • Here the Inspector seems ready to accept that Trident’s stability was adequate based upon the testimony of her owner. We have carried out a simple stability check and ascertained that the Trident would have capsized in any of her sailing conditions, if the powerblock had borne a direct load of 26 tons, as described above. In any case, the gear on Trident was incapable of a direct lift of such magnitude and would have probably failed before capsizing.

  • The Inspector again has made a statement that cannot be supported by analysis. We have carried out a brief calculation and found that, if the net (weighing about 1.3 tons) shifted to port or starboard by 2.5m, the vessel would have heeled by about 2 degrees (i.e. not a large angle of heel)
Conclusions

The underlying tone of this document, recently released by MAIB, seems to be that the families of the deceased and the media have somehow exaggerated the possibility that Trident had been deficient in stability.
The fact that this MAIB document plays down the principal conclusion of the original investigation (OFI) regarding the Trident’s stability, and the fact that the outcomes from the NMI Trident model tests, which added weight to that conclusion, have not even been mentioned, raise further questions as to its objectivity and impartiality.

In a previous communication to us, the Chief Inspector of Accidents admitted, that the MAIB reports only had the legal status of OPINION. In that case, we would argue that the public does not really wish to pay out a lot of money for casualty investigations that only deliver DfT opinions; what they would prefer, to be sure, is to receive information as to what actually happened and the reasons why an accident occurred – delivered promptly from an impartial and competent source.


(More to come)

Sunday, December 19, 2010

FV Trident Investigation - the paper trail (part 2)

Our latest dealings with the Marine Accident Investigation Branch (MAIB) have not been very fruitful. (Not that they have been fruitful in the past, when we approached them in connection with the Gaul RFI.)

Conceding to our request for information on the role that MAIB played in the run up to the Trident RFI, the head of the MAIB has sent us four documents - one of which wishes itself to be a summary of the MAIB’s views on the loss of the Trident following their underwater survey of the wreck and prior to the re-opening of the official investigation in 2002.

The document in question records some generalities relating to the Trident accident, a few anecdotes of disputable value, a fairly absurd technical assertion (we won’t reproduce it here so as not to embarrass the MAIB staff), an inaccurately justified denial of Trident’s stability problems, and an ambivalent statement as to whether the FV Trident formal inquiry warranted a re-opening in accordance with the provisions of the Merchant Shipping Act.

This was in no way the robust recommendation to the Secretary of State for Transport that, as announced at the time in the press, you might have believed the re-opening of the Trident inquiry had been based on. No, we are led to think that the MAIB left it to the politicians to decide this for themselves, unencumbered by a definite technical viewpoint[*]
The MAIB’s experts’ only judgement was that new evidence about the vessel had been found (quite obvious, since the wreck had recently been located and surveyed), but they couldn’t say whether or not that new evidence was important enough to give grounds for another formal inquiry. What the MAIB also omitted to add was that the discovery of the wreck in itself tended to reinforce the conclusion of the original inquiry that: “inadequate stability is the factor most likely to underlie her foundering in conditions which would not normally have overwhelmed a ship of her size”

(Well, we know now that the evidence most relevant to the cause of the loss - the National Maritime Institute’s model tests and research - was not new, except to the families and the public. The results from the NMI research, coupled with the discovery of the wreck should have been reason enough to allow the inquiry to be re-opened and to conclude that: “inadequate stability led to her foundering in conditions which would not normally have overwhelmed a ship of her size.”)

Now, going back to the released MAIB documents, we have also noted that their brief summary on the Trident did not refer to the NMI research data on the Trident’s stability – that very interesting file that the DfT claims to have shredded. Although the MAIB had to admit that they had had unrestricted access to all the official documents related to the vessel, they only mentioned the A. Morrall technical paper - ‘Capsizing of small trawlers’, which is a sort of sanitised derivative of the original NMI research on the Trident.

Well, well, who can seriously believe that such a top organisation as the MAIB would not have used the real data contained in the DfT’s official files?!

Anyway, what caught our eyes above all that was the fact that the MAIB’s summary, apart from being fanciful and superficial, looked as though it had been made ad-hoc, to entertain us. The document had no date, no author, and the MAIB’s Chief Inspector did not even know whether and to whom it had been addressed. He just found it somewhere “in the system”. (Well, if this document was compiled or modified after our request for information and specially for that purpose, then, I think, this sort of undertaking has a rather unpleasant name to it…)

And that is all we’ve learned from UK’s prestigious Marine Accident Investigation Branch. To find out more, the Chief Inspector advised us, would cost more than £600. Furthermore, we were also told, the “the key players involved in the MAIB’s work have since left the organisation.” That is exactly what the Head of Shipping Policy in the Department for Transport told us once, in response to our questions about of the Gaul RFI.
Just like the tribal chief who said to his visitors: we no longer have any cannibals in our tribe - we ate the last one yesterday…

(More to come…)

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[*] Apparently, an unequivocal recommendation for the re-opening of the investigation came from a non-technical quarter, namely, from the Office of the Advocate General in Scotland.

Wednesday, December 08, 2010

FV Trident Inquiry - The MAIB leaves no traces

As we announced in our post of 15 November 2010, we lodged a FOI request with the Marine Accident Investigation Branch (MAIB) of the Department for Transport asking them a few simple questions aimed at clarifying their role in the FV Trident Investigation.

The response from MAIB, which we received yesterday does not clarify anything. What is more, it gives the false impression that the MAIB did not play any technical role (or keep any records of its role) in the run up to the Trident RFI, and goes on to suggest that, even if it had played such a role, this ought to remain an official secret.
To bolster their equivocation, the MAIB misinterprets the Merchant Shipping (Accident Reporting and Investigations) Regulations 2005 and tries to apply the prohibition clause therein, not only to the content of restricted documents or evidence[*], witness statements, or the personal details of any persons making such statements, but also to the question of whether they hold such evidence in their coffers.
Notable, however, is their reluctance even to address our query about any advice the MAIB might have provided to the DfT and the Office of the Advocate General for Scotland, in the run up to the Trident RFI.

As this blog bears witness, we have had encounters with the MAIB before, in connection with the Gaul investigation, and they were just as unhelpful. So it does not surprise us in the slightest to read their attempt at obfuscation in the Trident case now.

Well, as they say, 'once your reputation’s gone, you can live a life of fun'. And this is the obvious trend in most of our governmental institutions today.

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[*] The Sheriff presiding over the FV Trident RFI has, nevertheless, the powers to call for such prohibited documents and evidence.
 

Friday, December 03, 2010

FV Trident Investigation – the paper trail (part 1)

In our post of 17 October 2010, we referred to a statement by Department for Transport in which they advised that the DfT’s shipping safety research folder Ref. No. MS/92/12/09, which contained information about the stability of the Trident, had been routinely destroyed, apparently, like many other official documents that are no longer deemed relevant to current goings-on.


At the same time, the Trident victims’ families had also requested the Department to provide them with the title and information about the contents of this folder. After much delay, the Department for Transport answered these questions by admitting, simply, almost casually, that the title of that file had been “Intact Stability in relation to Trident PD 111” and that, although they “no longer hold information on what was contained in the file”, “clearly, from the title of the file, this would have been information relating to the stability of the Trident.”[*]
Hey, the official might have added, and what are you going to do about that?

So we now have it confirmed that the file in question contained information on the very issue that has lain at the heart of the original and current public inquiries, and which the latest investigation has been trying hard to avoid making a correct pronouncement on.

Anyway, on the subject of the 'shredded file', more is yet to come…

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[*] The Trident victims’ families’ FOI request and the answer provided by the DfT can be viewed at the following site: http://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/mca_file_ref_ms_921209

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

A small test of integrity

We are currently still waiting for the final conclusions of the FV Trident Re-opened Formal Investigation to be published. However, from what we’ve gathered so far, it seems that the government has already decided to prevent the truth from emerging at the end of this protracted and costly inquiry; we do not believe for a moment that the Aberdeen Sheriff will be able to deliver anything other than the outcome requested by UK ministers.

The current government should have had few reasons to manipulate the results of this formal investigation, unless pressures threatening to affect their political interests have recently provided them with suitable motivation.

Of course, it is not difficult to understand that those who directed the cover-up in the Gaul RFI have a vested interest in seeing that the Trident inquiry goes the same way. Delivering justice in the Trident case, they might fear, could open the Gaul’s families’ eyes and their appetite for a similar treatment.

What may be even more daunting is that subsequent disclosures about the miscarriage of justice in the Gaul case would be linked to some of the most prominent entries in the New Labour Party bestiary.

Notwithstanding that, we would urge our government once again to resist undue pressures, permit an honest conclusion to the Trident investigation and allow the families of the victims to finally obtain justice. It is too ugly to persist with the deception, especially when these families know very well that they are being deceived.
It is also imprudent to think that the truth - already difficult to contain - would not, sooner or later, overcome official censorship, lies and the suppression of facts. Any delay in acknowledging this can only make a future exposure many times more embarrassing.


The Trident RFI may be just a small test of official integrity, but small things like this determine the direction of a government’s course and the chances they have of passing other, more strenuous trials.

LINK

Monday, November 15, 2010

FV Trident Investigation - the role of the MAIB

So far, the Marine Accident Investigation Branch (MAIB) has been sheltered from the strong winds blowing around the ongoing Re-opened Formal Investigation into the loss of  FV Trident.

However, we know that, prior to the re-opening of this new investigation, the MAIB played an important role in assessing the causes behind Trident's loss.  We have now sent them a Freedom of Information request that, hopefully, will shed some light upon the official handling of this case.

NOTE: In the Gaul RFI, the MAIB produced a detailed report (Rep no.4/99) which accompanied their recommendation for a re-opening of the Gaul investigation. It is therefore to be expected that at least the same level of service and transparency should have applied in the Trident inquiry.

Saturday, November 06, 2010

HMS Ark Royal

A ship that one of us helped build in the late seventies (together with her sister, HMS Illustrious):

Thursday, November 04, 2010

Clippings

Trident

In our previous post, we condemned the actions of the Department for Transport (DfT) for shredding a file, which contained important information on the 1976 NMI stability tests on the FV Trident (The information was destroyed before it could be called as evidence in the current investigation into Trident’s loss, while, at the same time, some £6m was being spent by the DfT to repeat the stability tests and obtain new ‘evidence’ and a different theory for her loss).

NOTE: It now appears that the FV Trident RFI transcripts of evidence, which used to be accessible from the government site: fv-trident.org.uk, have recently been removed. We have no idea why this happened, but can only suspect that they are about to undergo a process of improvement at the end of which they may no longer accurately reflect what was said during the 2009-2010 hearings, but what the officials wished they had said. 


UPDATE 26.11.2010 - The DfT intimated that the fv-trident.org.uk "keeps going offline" and that they didn't know why - that it was clearly a technical problem, not their intention to close the site down.
Well, then it must be a serious technical problem, since the site has been offline for more than a month now.

Gaul

We have recently noticed that the official video of the NMI stability tests on the Gaul, transferred to the National Archives in March of this year, has also suffered from data loss during this process. The previous 35.9Mb clip has now shrunk to 20Mb, and its original recording of 18.39 minutes now only runs for just over 10.36 minutes before it freezes.
Critically, the lost material is at the end of the clip - the part that refers to the NMI stability report, analysis and conclusions.



It would seem that, bit-by-bit, in a slow and stealthy fashion, a number of elements of recorded history have been lost or modified over time with public officials stepping in to plug the gaps with new and opportune slants and an adulterated perception of the past reality.

Ayn Rand once wrote, “We can evade reality, but we cannot evade the consequences of evading reality”. Likewise, we foresee, the consequences of the our political establishment’s re-write of history will not be late in presenting themselves.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

FV Trident Inquiry – Shredding the evidence

An article published in the Press and Journal on 8 September 2010 informed the public about the outcome of the Trident families’ quest for information relating to a hidden NMI report on the Trident’s stability reserves (withheld from them by the Department for Transport (DfT) since 1976).

In a statement from DfT’s current Shipping Minister, Mike Penning, the families were told that it would now be “impossible” to establish the reasons why the report had not been passed over to them in 1976, when it was first produced.

Following a request for further information about this report (information that would have been located within the DfT’s shipping safety research folder - reference no. MS/92/12/09), the families were told that “this file is no longer in existence, it did not disappear, but was destroyed in accordance with the routine, approved disposal agreement” (?!) and that ‘A file is reviewed after 25 years and if National Archives show no interest in maintaining the file, then it is destroyed”

On hearing this news, the families were quite right to register a complaint, but, unfortunately, the task of dealing with it was given to one of the DfT’s divisional directors, a Mr John Bagley, who piously claimed:

It is clear from documents supplied to me that on 17 February 2005 the MCA instructed Iron Mountain to destroy this file. The file was listed along with 9,777 others in the same instruction and appears to have been a routine procedure, which Iron Mountain complied with the following day when the file was destroyed by shredding. The file appears to have been disposed of in accordance with proper procedures and at a point in time which would have been well in excess of the retention period

A plausible, but unfortunate set of circumstances perhaps, or bad luck? - We think not!! [*]

In the first instance, merchant shipping files do not go to the shredder by way of a mindless, automated routine; they are sent there when they are no longer relevant to current happenings in the shipping world (for MCA policies relating to file retention and disposal see copy of memorandum below – paragraphs 2, 5 and 7 are the most relevant. Note: files containing the results of expensive maritime safety research are not routinely shredded).


Additionally, the very fact that the wreck of the Trident was discovered in June 2001 and that the Marine Accident Investigation Branch (MAIB) were subsequently tasked with carrying out underwater surveys on it, meant that, in the first instance, the MAIB would have collected all available Trident files from the Department’s main file registry.
It was only after they had reviewed all official records and the results from their underwater surveys that the MAIB were able to advise the DfT’s Minister that ‘new and important evidence’ had been found - the basis on which Mr Stephen Byers re-opened the formal investigation in March 2002.

Once a maritime public inquiry has been opened (or re-opened), the normal procedure is for all official files and records to be taken into the custody of the DfT and AG (via the Treasury Solicitor) who will then decide which items of evidence should be released to the parties to the inquiry.

Thus, if the Trident investigation was re-opened in 2002 and the Trident stability file was shredded in 2005, it would seem that someone within the DfT specifically requested/authorised the file’s destruction. MCA officials would not have been authorised to take a decision on a file that was linked to an ongoing formal inquiry.

Perhaps the DfT could provide us with a justification for their haste.

(On this subject, there is, however, more to come…)

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[*]  By 2005, the DfT and their retained experts were well on course for a re-write of the official records on the Trident’s loss. Obviously, if there were any historical records available from that period – and if they fell into the 'wrong hands' (the FOI act came into force 6 weeks before the Trident’s records were shredded) - then these could be read!!!!

Saturday, October 02, 2010

Cowardice and other hindrances

Over the last four years we have published substantive evidence of a miscarriage of justice in the outcome of the Gaul Re-opened Formal Investigation, in which the Court decided that the crew had been responsible for the tragedy while conveniently ignoring serious faults in the vessel’s design and actively suppressing the evidence thereof.
Over the last four years we have dutifully brought these issues to the attention of all relevant authorities and succeeding governments. The past New Labour administrations, naturally, had no interest in addressing them.
But the newly installed government coalition promised us change – change that we understood would be for the better and, as we have recently made some progress (the Met Police had just become slightly more candid and the DfT a touch more sensitive to facts), we thought that appropriate action was forthcoming.


At the same time, however, the left-wing press turned the spotlight on some past minor scandals, rekindled and hyped up to provoke outrage and unsettle the present administration. (And irony of ironies, and amazing coincidence, old John Prescott, the main protagonist in the Gaul and Derbyshire re-opened investigations, was one of the first to jump onto the media circus bandwagon and, becoming suddenly aggrieved with some perceived past infringements to his privacy and loudly condemning the Police indifference to his claims, threatened them with costly legal action.)

All these irate attacks by the political opposition, though irrelevant to the general public, appear, nonetheless, to have made our government lose composure and falter in its commitment to rectify the errors of the past regime.

Failed inquiries, aborted investigations and other unexposed official transgressions seem nowadays to be like stashed away ammunition - ready for use in political battles - or some form of convertible currency, to be traded off on the black market of politics.
For, nowadays, government and political opposition are all part of the same intricate mesh, tightly tangled together in mutual interests, cowardice and ignominy.

P.S. We urge the Prime Minister, David Cameron, to start acting with integrity.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Police Investigative Methods

Following on from our post of 19 August 2010, in which we decried the fact that after a FOI request, one demand for an internal review and one complaint to the FOI team within the Information Commissioner’s Office, the mystery surrounding the content of paragraphs 8 to 18 in the assessment report complied by the Metropolitan Police in response to our allegations about the Gaul RFI remained unresolved.

Persistence, however, brought some results, for, after having submitted another complaint - this time to the Data Protection team within the Information Commissioner’s Office - the Met was forced to release their case assessment report - unredacted.

And what a letdown that was. The eleven paragraphs in question refer exclusively to our allegations in respect of the 2004 Gaul RFI, which they reproduce therein almost word for word. No personal data in there, except for our names mentioned once or twice. A copy of the Met’s unredacted report can be seen HERE.

The report contains no information to suggest that the Met contacted any witnesses or in any way probed the alleged facts.
Contrary to what we had expected, the Specialist Crime Unit in the Met does not appear to have even tried to obtain any further information about the case, by contacting for example, experts in the domain, the Department for Transport, the Gaul RFI legal teams, the Treasury Solicitor, the representatives of the victims’ families or any other witnesses.
The Met, although conceding in an addendum to their assessment report that "the Inquiry’s findings as to why various chutes were open are not necessarily correct" [LINK], chose not to pursue the matter any further.

At the end of their assessment, they concluded that, based on the information we had provided at that time, they were "unable to find sufficient evidence to support any further investigation into the allegation" and that they "did not detect fraud, any other crime, or any other matter which warrants any further Police investigation.".

Based on the same approach, the police could just as well refuse to investigate a murder and claim that, although it was reported that a person had been seen gunned down on the street, they did not visit the scene or verify any of the alleged facts, and that, therefore, there was insufficient evidence to suggest that a crime might have been committed.

Back in December 2008, in their first refusal to disclose the contents of their case assessment report, the Met argued that the disclosure would expose to the layman the "operational methodology and investigative techniques" of the Police. They were quite right. Now, that we’ve seen the unredacted report, we know precisely what these techniques really are.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

A trip down memory lane

Having recently leafed through some old books about the Gaul, we found an interesting paragraph at page 62 in John Nicklin’s book, The Loss of the Motor Trawler GAUL, which we have reproduced below.



Sadly, Mr Nicklin is no longer with us and will not be able to read copies of two of the official memos that were circulated at that time (see below). These memos provide the answer to his question as to why the Department of Trade, who had commissioned the NMI report on the Gaul, declined to make its findings public.


The last paragraph in the memo above shows that the Department of Trade were not prepared to permit the publication of the NMI report on the Gaul’s stability, for fear that its conclusions might provide evidence to one of the parties to the litigation.


The above memo shows that only after the prospect of litigation had disappeared did the NMI think it likely that the Department of Trade would grant permission to make the results of their research public.

Unfortunately, this is all we have time for at the moment, but we shall come back to this subject (and to the Trident affair) in due course.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Wreck Discovery

It has recently been reported that a team of divers have discovered the wreck of a UK fishing vessel thought to be the Blue Crusader, a 274 tons gross trawler which was lost in heavy weather (10-12 force gales) off Ronaldsay Firth in the Orkneys after sailing from Aberdeen on January 13, 1965. All 13 crew onboard perished in this tragedy.
After 13 days without radio communications from the vessel, a full-scale search was launched. Two Shackletons from Royal Air Force station Kinloss scanned the Orkneys area for four days, but the trawler was never found.

The identity of the wreck now discovered has not as yet been confirmed, but the diving team who located it are planning to go back to the site and check its registration number.

Meanwhile, we have found a copy of the Report of the Official Inquiry, dated 3rd December 1965, which can be viewed and downloaded from this LINK (Crown Copyright).

Note

In 1965 when the Blue Crusader was lost the regulatory framework, which governed the safety of fishing vessels was very weak. It was not until after the IMCO had developed their minimum standards for fishing vessels stability and the Holland-Martin Report on trawler safety had been published, that UK safety legislation, courtesy of the 1970 Safety Provisions Act, was put in place to rectify this shortfall.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Personal Data

In an earlier post we disclosed a previously redacted paragraph from the Met Police (Specialist Crime Unit) case assessment report – to which we had recently gained access care of the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO).

The report in question had been, as you can see from our post of 10 of May 2009, almost entirely redacted by the Met who claimed that: "the majority of information contained within the report has been redacted as it is exempt by virtue of Section 40(1)&(2) of the Act."
Section 40(1) of the Freedom of Information Act refers to the personal data of the subject data applicant, whereas Section 40(2) refers to the personal data of other people .[*]
Thus, the Met implied, over 80% of their assessment of the Gaul RFI consisted of biographic detail … (!?) although in their response to our FOI request for information regarding any witnesses/ parties questioned by detectives during their assessment process, the police indicated there were none.

The Met also advised that, should we wish to request the redacted information in respect of Section 40(1) (i.e. personal data about ourselves), which is contained in that report, we would have to complete a Subject Access Request (SAR) application.
We did complete two SAR forms and paid the associated fees. The response we got, however, was the release of another few lines from their case assessment report (these, except for our names, did not contain any other personal data, but only the allegations we had made about the shortcomings of the Gaul RFI).
The rest still remained concealed. That is a big chunk of the report – paragraphs 8 to 18 – remained redacted, purportedly, under the provisions of Section 40(2) of the Freedom of Information Act, which relates to third parties’ personal data.

Now, if we take another look at the redacted report, we can see that paragraph 19 states that the case officer "reviewed the materials described at paragraphs 10 to 18" in order to assess the validity of our complaint about the undisclosed design faults of the Gaul. The materials should, therefore, have contained technical rather than personal information. For, anyway, what personal information could they have contained and about whom? Under the 1998 Data Protection Act (DPA), personal data is clearly defined as data about a living individual, who can be identified from those data.
It may be that the documents referred to in the police assessment report did, in effect, contain information relating to technical matters, but - based on the fact that those materials had an author who, by necessity, must have been a living person, and judging that any expressed opinions reveal the insights of a person’s mind - the Met may have gone as far as to conclude that disclosure of such insights were prone to lead to undue intimacy and breach, therefore, the author’s rights under the Data Protection Act.


Thus, the Met have conveniently missed the fact that personal data is information about a person, not information a originating from a person – otherwise, except that produced by non-human species, all information would be exempt.
Also, as we have already contended in our reply to the Met, a witness statement is not considered personal data under the provisions of the 1998 Data Protection Act, unless the witness himself is the focus of that information. Just because a document contains the name of a person does not mean that it is about that person.
All opinion has an author, but if the opinion is not about the author himself and his personal life, then that opinion should be able to be passed on. Besides, the Data Protection Act itself suggests the means by which information can be conveyed without revealing its source: i.e. the omission of names or other identity details.

Unfortunately, by choosing not to disclose the requested information, the Metropolitan Police have now left room for suspecting that the content of their case assessment report is either embarrassing or untrue.
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[*](1) Any information to which a request for information relates is exempt information if it constitutes personal data of which the applicant is the data subject.
(2) Any information to which a request for information relates is also exempt information if-
(a) it constitutes personal data which do not fall within subsection (1), and
(b) either the first or the second condition below is satisfied. [etc]

Wednesday, August 04, 2010

The FV Trident Investigation – Another Public Inquiry - Another national disgrace

In an earlier post we gave an overview on how the re-opened Trident casualty investigation (RFI) was being conducted and managed by the Advocate General towards an outcome that would be preferred by at least one of the departments in our current Government (the DfT).


Recently we have learnt that the JPE (the RFI’s Joint Panel of Experts) had also taken it upon themselves to rewrite the official records of Trident’s intact stability.

Work done:

The JPE have changed the official DOT lightship particulars for Trident (from those used in the original investigation):

Original investigation (OFI) 1975

Lightship displacement[1] = 149.83 tonnes (147.46 imperial tons)
VCG[2] position = 3.197m above keel (10.487 feet)
LCG[3] position = 9.971m forward of the rudder stock (3.525 feet aft of amidships)

Re-opened investigation (RFI) 2010

Lightship displacement = 153.01 tonnes
VCG position = 3.18m above keel
LCG position = 9.95m forward of the rudder stock

They have also modified the weights of the items that she was assumed to be carrying on the day of her last voyage (the original figures can be seen in the NMI/Morrall testing report page 13 and in the report of the original investigation - condition A2):
  • They increased the amount of fuel she was carrying by 1.75 tonnes to 6.75 tonnes
  • They doubled the amount of fresh water on board to 3 tonnes
  • They reduced the amount of stores in the upper focsle space from 1.5 tonnes to 0.45 tonnes and removed 1 tonne of stores from the lower focsle space
  • They reduced the weight of the fish boxes in the hold from 3.37 tonnes to 2.4 tonnes
  • They reduced the weight of the lube oil drums in the engine room by 20kg
  • They reduced the weight of fishing nets from 3.6 tonnes to 3 tonnes
  • They increased the weight of the gallows chain from 0.27 to 0.45 tonnes
  • They removed the ‘dog rope’
  • They increased the amount of engine room stores by 100kg
  • They increased the amount allowed for the crew’s effects by 90kg
In brief, the effect of the JPE’s modifications has been to increase Trident’s notional stability reserves[4] by about 10% for her final sailing and loss condition.

If we look at the stability of the Trident in both the original and the JPE-modified conditions we can see that in her original condition, Trident is clearly non-compliant with IMCO minimum stability criteria, however, after the JPE modifications have been applied, her stability improves to the point where she only marginally fails to meet the IMCO minima:


What were the motives behind the JPE’s actions?

1. To ‘update’ our official records to indicate that, contrary to the evidence contained in the report of the 1975 formal investigation and in the 1976 NMI/Morrall report, the Trident’s stability at the time of her loss 'complied substantially with IMCO'[5] minimum standards, and that, therefore, non-compliance was not a factor in her loss.

(RFI Transcript for 12 July 2010 – Advocate General page 102:)


2. To request the Sheriff to dismiss the conclusions from the original 1975 formal investigation and the subsequent model tests carried out NMI/Morrall in 1976;

(RFI Transcript for 12 July 2010, page 105:)


3. And finally to oblige the Sheriff to conclude:

(RFI Transcript for 12 July 2010, page 74)


Our conclusion

The callous way in which the current investigation into the tragic loss of the Trident and her seven crew members has been scripted by the DfT and conducted by the AG towards a pre-determined outcome reveals the depths that our Government, and those it employs, will stoop in order to maintain policies that, regardless of their warped perception of the public interest, they know are both unjust and unlawful.

This is nothing less than a national disgrace

An extended pdf version of this article is available HERE.

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[1] Lightship displacement = the floating weight of the empty ship
[2] VCG = the position of the vertical centre of gravity of the ship’s weight
[3] LCG = the position of the longitudinal centre of gravity of the ship’s weight
[4] Note:  In 1975, the Court’s experts carried out a very comprehensive and careful investigation into Trident’s stability characteristics - in terms of ascertaining her empty hull weight, position of centre of gravity and the items of fishing gear, fuel, water and stores she was carrying onboard at the time of her loss. There is no substantive reason or factual basis to justify the changes that have now been carried out by the JPE.
[5] This was the stated position of the DOT throughout the 1975 Formal Investigation

Saturday, July 31, 2010

The Met was not quite convinced by the Gaul RFI experts...

…but left it to us to investigate the fraud

In an earlier post, we gave details of the information received from the Metropolitan Police in response to our FOI request for the police report assessing our allegations that the conduct and the outcome of the Gaul inquiry (RFI) amounted to fraud.
As the published copy of the report shows, most of the information therein had been redacted so that nothing relevant could be seen.
Last month, however, following an intervention from the Information Commissioner, the Met have, reluctantly, released an extra paragraph - one authored presumably by a superior of the case assessment officer - which simply reads:

Please thank DC Boyce for his prompt and thorough assessment of this case.

DC Boyce seems to conclude that the Inquiry’s findings as to why various chutes were open are not necessarily correct [1] when considered against conflicting expert evidence. I agree that these issues are very subjective and I do not have sufficient knowledge of these matters to either agree or disagree with the Inquiry’s conclusions. However, I accept that the evidence to support a further criminal investigation is not made out.

It is quite something to get the police to admit, however reluctantly, that the conclusions of the Gaul inquiry were not necessarily correct (one does not need specialised knowledge to admit that - just a bit of common sense).

The evidence we had provided, both to the police as well as on this blog, should have been more than enough to trigger a criminal investigation. It would have been very easy for the Met detectives to contact the few witnesses we had suggested and thus extract further details about what went on behind the scenes prior and during the Gaul RFI.
Unfortunately, the Met must have decided that it was not their job to investigate and collect evidence, but ours.


As to the rest of the redactions in the case assessment report, both the Met and the Information Commissioner’s Office suggested that a Subject Access Data Request [2](SAR) might shed some light upon those black lines, which we, accordingly, submitted. But that is another story…
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[1] The bold emphasis belongs to us.
[2] We also requested the Met to release, for a small fee, any personal data about us that was contained within the report in question.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

The stability of the fishing vessel Trident

The Court hearings into the loss of the FV Trident have now concluded and we have been advised that the Sheriff Principal has retired to write his report. 
Although the control of the technical information, relevant to these hearings, has been unprecedented for a public inquiry, secretive even, the Advocate General’s views on what the preferred outcome should be have been frequently aired in the press:

She said: There is no reliable evidence to support a finding that the loss of the Trident was caused by deficiencies in her design stability, in particular non-compliance with the recommended IMCO intact stability criteria, or by capsizing in different circumstances.
The most probable cause of the loss of Trident was a sudden and catastrophic capsize in heavy seas, which most likely occurred within two or three seconds and was followed by rapid sinking.

Notwithstanding these points, one piece of factual information about Trident, which has recently managed to break through into the public domain as a result of a freedom of information request to the DfT, is a 34-year-old technical report on the tank testing that was carried out on a scale model of the Trident by the National Maritime Institute in 1976.


Although the NMI report is very carefully worded, it concludes that the Trident’s stability reserves were insufficient to prevent her from capsizing in sea conditions that were relatively moderate, ie in conditions similar to those that were recorded on the day she was lost. The report also shows that on her last voyage, Trident’s stability was deficient when compared to the IMCO minimum stability standards. It is unfortunate that for many years the Department of Trade have been unwilling to share these important conclusions with the relatives of those who were lost.


Apart from its conclusions, the NMI report also contains some information that is of real interest to Naval Architects: it contains a scaled body plan and loading data. What the release of this information actually means is that the curious amongst us can now check out the stability reserves of the Trident for ourselves – we no longer have to accept the official, sanitised, line that has been consistently promulgated by the DfT over the years and which has now also been adopted by the OAG.

Stability assessment

We constructed a computer model of the Trident’s hull and carried out an assessment of Trident’s stability reserves against the minimum standards that are laid down by IMCO for fishing vessels:


We have thus discovered that Trident did not meet the IMCO minimum stability criteria in any of the four principal loading conditions. 


We were also able to confirm that the Trident did not meet the IMCO stability criteria on the day she was lost and, furthermore, even if 10 tonnes of steel ballast had been added to her keel, she would still have been unable to meet the IMCO stability criteria in all of the four standard sailing conditions.

The following image contains the summary results of our stability assessment, the data that is highlighted in orange shows IMCO non-compliances in each of the six sailing conditions examined. Alternatively, this file [link] contains a copy of the stability assessment in a pdf format.


The IMCO stability standards are minima, which, when met, should prevent a vessel from capsizing in all but the most severe of weather conditions. They come as a package and they need to be complied with in their entirety.
Since 1975, all UK fishing vessels of the Tridents type and size have been obliged to meet the IMCO stability standards in full. Any vessel that did not meet the IMCO stability standard would not have been issued with a UK fishing vessel safety certificate by the MCA and would, therefore, have been unable to fish.

The Trident did not meet IMCO’s minimum stability standards and unfortunately the nature of her non-compliance was such that the mere addition of ballast would not have resolved this problem. For Trident, as in the case of her sister vessel, the Silver Lining, significant structural modifications would have been necessary to bring her stability reserves up to the required standard.

A ship’s propensity to capsize and its inherent stability are inextricably interrelated; the very fact that Trident capsized is conclusive evidence that Trident had insufficient stability for the sea conditions on the day she was lost.
Additionally, the fact that Trident did not meet IMCO’s minimum stability standards (i.e. her stability was deficient) would certainly have increased her propensity to capsize.

ADDENDUM (19 July 2010)

Stability model comparison

The output from our stability model was compared against the results obtained for the Trident’s loss condition from the DOT’s SIKOB program in 1976 (the SIKOB results are contained both in the final report of the original Formal Investigation and in the 1976 NMI model test report). The results from the 2010 computer program and the 1976 SIKOB program were found to be virtually identical (only 3mm difference in floating draught and 7mm difference in trim over 22 metres):


However, it was noted that the original 1976 calculations contained a small input error and, when the input to the 2010 program was modified to rectify this anomaly, the stability results were reduced slightly:


Tuesday, July 13, 2010

FV Trident Inquiry - Preliminary comment

Recent reports in the press advise us [Aberdeen Press and Journal and BBC] that Scotland's Advocate General (AG) is of the view that lack of stability was not a significant factor in Trident’s capsize and loss, and that the old chestnut - ‘heavy seas’ - has popped up again as explanation of the 1974 tragedy:

The most probable cause of the loss of Trident was a sudden and catastrophic capsize in heavy seas.

This proposition by the AG does not really hold any weight for a vessel of Trident’s size and type, even when we take into account the more severe weather conditions (force 7-8 or 9 even?) that were generated for the RFI at the behest of its ‘panel of experts’.

Indeed, if this were a plausible hypothesis, we would have had many Trident-type losses (of IMCO-compliant fishing vessels) during the past 36 years and national legislation providing for increased intact stability standards would have needed to be introduced. This, however, has never happened.

Footnote:
In the original Formal Investigation, the Court reached the conclusion that "reliance cannot be placed on the soundness of the design of Trident" and that "she was probably of inadequate stability".
After reviewing the whole of their evidence, they further concluded that " in all the circumstances it would be unrealistic to conclude that her loss was due solely to the action of the sea and, finaly, that inadequate stability is the factor most likely to underlie her foundering in conditions which would not normally have overwhelmed a ship of her size."

(More to follow)

Friday, July 09, 2010

Truffles

To celebrate the ennoblement of John Prescott and his happy accession to the House of Lords, we have posted the short clip below.
This may also remind his followers that in the New Labour Farm "all animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others.".

Monday, July 05, 2010

FV Trident - Centres of gravity

During the Original Formal Investigation (OFI - 1975) into the loss of the fishing vessel Trident, matters pertaining to her stability were examined in great depth; however, when it came to writing the final report of the investigation, the Court felt unable to make a pronouncement on whether the Trident had met IMCO’s minimum stability standards or not:

It is impossible to assert categorically that Trident did or did not comply with the IMCO recommendations, to which it was intended that she should be built

Apart from the uncertainty arising from the absence of an inclining experiment, one of the principal reasons cited for this unfortunate lack of assurance was the fact that there were known discrepancies between the designer’s original drawings and the as-built hull shape of the Trident and her sister vessel, the Silver Lining.

In the OFI’s final report, this point was emphasised by including two stability calculations as an Annex, one based upon the dimensions taken from the designer’s drawings (Bute lines) and one based upon the dimensions lifted from her sister vessel, the Silver Lining (Napier lines).

These two sets of stability calculations show that the Trident’s stability passed the IMCO recommendations when the calculations were carried out based upon the ‘Bute lines’ dimensions, but failed the IMCO recommendations when the same calculations were carried out based upon the ‘Napier Lines’ dimensions:

Partial copies from OFI final report plus amendments

This all seems to be quite straightforward and, apparently, justifies the Court’s uncertainty on this matter.

However, what is not immediately apparent, both from the 1976 OFI report and from the transcripts of Court evidence, is the fact that the real reason why the Bute hulled version of Trident ‘passed’ and the Napier hulled version of Trident ‘failed’ was that the vertical centres of gravity (VCG) that were used for these two separate stability calculations were different:
  • Bute hull lightship VCG = 10.072 feet above the keel (a value of unspecified provenance)
  • Napier hull lightship VCG = 10.487 feet above the keel (value derived from the inclining experiment carried out on Silver Lining and subsequently used in the 1976 NMI research)
If the same vertical centre of gravity figures had been used in both of these two stability calculations, they would have indicated either a double failure (when the VCGs = 10.487 ft) or a double pass (when the VCGs = 10.072 ft)
i.e The Trident’s stability calculations would show a pass or a fail (with respect to the IMCO stability standard) dependent upon the value of VCG used and not, as the OFI implied, due to differences between the Bute and Napier hull geometries, which were not, by themselves, sufficient to influence the results of the stability calculations.

What is more, it would appear that this was not just an oversight, but more of a deliberate ‘smoke and mirrors’ exercise by the DOT who, when they drafted conditions A1 and A2, also forgot to include the lightship VCG figures in the tables that are contained in the final OFI report:


If one reads through the transcripts of evidence for the 1975 inquiry, it is notable yet again [link to previous FV Gaul post] that Council for the DOT (who in 1975 carried out similar functions to those performed by the AG in the 2010 inquiry) was quite anxious to put forward the notion that Trident had complied substantially with the IMCO minimum standards.

(More to come)

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Freedom of Information

One day before the prescribed deadline, the Department for Transport responded to our FOI request of 2 June 2010 (see also our post of 06 June 2010) by providing us with the 1976 NMI report (a version made public today) and advising that “the Department does not hold a copy of the first draft of the report, nor any subsequent minutes of meeting discussing the document.

Well, imagine what would happen if they did…

Frankly, the FOI Act is not worth the paper it is written on, for any government office can, when cornered, claim that they don’t hold the documents that they don’t want the public to see.
The FOI Act does not provide for such eventualities, as it assumes a level of straightforwardness on the part of our public servants, which, nowadays, may no longer exist.

(More to come)

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Notes on an overdue inquiry

Today, during his speech in the House of Commons on the Saville Inquiry, Prime Minister David Cameron said that "Nothing can bring back those that were killed but I hope, as one relative has put it, the truth coming out can set people free."


I don’t know how many people believed the sincerity of the sentiment behind that statement, but we surely did not. For as regards other inquiries, into other deaths (see those related to FV Gaul, MV Derbyshire, FV Trident etc.), the coalition government, just like its predecessors, are still actively concealing the truth. And not only are they preventing the truth from coming out, but they also still have systems in place to gag and intimidate those who speak it.

P.S. Members of the coalition government were well aware of these cover-ups long before they came to power.

Wednesday, June 09, 2010

FV Trident Inquiry - IMCO Standards and Contractual Requirements

With reference to the article published today in the Aberdeen Press and Journal: http://www.pressandjournal.co.uk/Article.aspx/1775000

For those interested in more details about IMCO stability standards, White Fish Authority grants and trawlers built in the early seventies, the following link to a 1975 Parliamentary Debate on the Fishing Vessel ‘Silver Lining’ (& FV Trident) may be a worthwhile source of information:

http://hansard.millbanksystems.com/commons/1975/feb/10/fishing-vessel-silver-lining

Sunday, June 06, 2010

The FV Trident Re-opened Formal Investigation – June 2010

We are now approaching the 50th day of hearings in this second public inquiry into the loss of the trawler Trident and its 7-man crew. The cost of this investigation is also said to be nearing £4m and, according to recent reports in the press, nobody appears to be fully satisfied with the way it is currently heading.

The original 1975 inquiry sat for 10 days, managed to cover a lot of ground and, although the precise cause of the casualty was unascertainable at that time (there was no wreck or eye witness testimony to the event), was eventually able to conclude:

“that inadequate stability is the factor most likely to underlie her foundering in conditions which would not normally have overwhelmed a ship of her size”

Subsequently, at the behest of the Department of Trade, the National Maritime Institute ran a series of tests on a model of the Trident (in the period 1975/6) the results of which added considerable weight to the conclusions of the 1975 public inquiry. Unfortunately, however, the conclusions from these model tests (that Trident had insufficient stability) were neither made public nor passed on to the relatives of the crew, thus denying closure to those who had suffered the greatest loss.

Nothing then happened for 25 years until 2001 when a team of amateur divers, searching for the wreck of HMS Exmouth, came across the Trident’s wreck off the coast of Caithness. In 2002, following an official underwater survey of the wreck site by the MAIB, Stephen Byers, then Secretary of State for Transport, decided to re-open the formal investigation, announcing that important new evidence [*] had been discovered.

With hindsight, it now seems that it was at this point in time when the investigative processes started to go wrong.

Following the discovery of the wreck and the evidence it revealed, investigators should have been in a position to:

either

i) Endorse the conclusions of the 1975 inquiry and the NMI model tests (i.e. inadequate stability) and thus bring an end to 25 years of uncertainty

or

ii) Reveal important new evidence from the wreck site, which countered the conclusions of the original inquiry, and advise us of the alternative cause for Trident’s loss.

This process should have taken no more than a few days of the Court’s time, and would have allowed everyone, in a timely manner, to obtain closure and get on with their lives.

Eight years further down the line, it would now seem that, in 2002, the Department for Transport (DfT) decided instead to embark upon a third option:

iii) Overturn the conclusions of both the 1975 inquiry and the 1976 NMI model tests without any new or important evidence

You may ask how they could do this.

Quite simply, really - rewrite history, redefine the applicable technology, add a bit of obfuscation and, in the absence of new and important evidence – make use of statistics and computers to generate some - although obviously this process was to take some time and be rather expensive (8 years and £4m so far……).

So, what have they been doing during these past eight years?

  • They formed a investigating team called the Joint Panel of Experts
  • Two further underwater surveys of the wreck site were carried out including onsite measurements of the Trident’s hull – possibly to seek out ways to ‘enhance’ the deficient stability reserves that were calculated for Trident in 1975
  • Two new computer simulations for the weather were prepared by leading weather experts – to dismiss the assessment of prevailing weather and wave conditions that was given by Dr Draper in 1975 (wind force 5-6) and substitute weather conditions and waves corresponding to winds of force 7-8 instead
  • Model testing was carried out in the MARIN test facility in the Netherlands together with computer simulations of model tests - to obtain capsize events on the Trident model with revised weather and sea conditions - to dismiss the 1976 conclusions from the NMI model tests
  • A report was drawn up by the Joint Panel of Experts containing technical arguments to justify their new conclusion that ‘sea-keeping’ rather than ‘stability’ was the cause for Trident’s loss.

So what have they been doing during the past 50 days of Court hearings?
  • Discussing all of the above and generating more than 8000 pages of unintelligible evidence

Why are they doing this?
  • To make sure that the Court concludes that Trident sank for reasons other than deficient stability (with its implicit inference that someone was at fault).

All at taxpayers’ expense.

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[*] The Merchant Shipping Act stipulates that if, subsequent to a casualty investigation either “new and important evidence” or a miscarriage of justice is revealed, the Secretary of State for Transport is required to re-open the formal investigation.

Wednesday, June 02, 2010

Trident RFI - Freedom of Information request

With regard to the evidence made available during the current Trident RFI, a Freedom of Information request - which can be viewed and annotated via the link below - was sent today to the Department for Transport:

http://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/mfv_trident_re_opened_formal_inv

Tuesday, June 01, 2010

FV Trident Formal Inquiry – Openness

Following on from our previous post, in which we made a few observations on the latest developments in the ongoing Trident inquiry, we now feel bound to express further doubts on the official statement concerning the availability for public scrutiny of an item of important evidence.

When asked about NMI’s 1976 report, which has been hidden from the families for more than 30 years, the Advocate General’s official reply was that the report in question “has been publicly available since it was published in 1976, and was available for anyone to see at the time”.

Regrettably, in the light of a document, which we have recently received and which is copied below, we are now having serious doubts about the veracity of this official statement.


The above internal DOT document, dated 16th February 1977, suggests, amongst other things, that, at the time it was written, government officials in the DOT were actively suppressing the results of the TRIDENT/GAUL experiments.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

FV Trident Inquiry - the matter of the elusive document

Unexpected and most confounding press reports have recently announced that the families of the Trident victims have gained access to a document, which so far appears to have eluded them. The document in question, dating back to 1976, reveals that experts from the former National Maritime Institute, after carrying out research at the behest of the Department of Transport, had assessed that the Trident had inadequate stability.

Confronted with the uproar generated by this belated discovery, the Advocate General was quick to state that the document had not been hidden, that it “has been publicly available since it was published in 1976, and was available for anyone to see at the time”, and was even mentioned by the individual counsel during the recent court hearings.
For some reason, the Advocate General seems to confuse the RINA technical paper “Capsizing of Small Trawlers” by A. Morrall, that was published later, in 1979, for the 1976 NMI report for the DOT, to which the families are actually referring.
In fact, it was only the 1979 paper that has been mentioned by the counsel during the proceedings because, as a spokeswoman for the inquiry tried to justify, it had a “better status”.
Well, indeed, the 1979 RINA paper did have a ‘better status’: although originating from the 1976 research, the later publication was a more sanitized version of the document in question, therefore more suitable for public consumption, less definite in its pronouncements and one which does not even tie the 1976 research to the loss of Trident [*], simply referring to trawlers A and B instead.

Anyway, last week, we sent an email to the Advocate General asking her to name that contentious document publicly and to make it available to the public.

Dear Madam,

Following the latest news in the press regarding the emergence yesterday of "an unpublished government report which concluded that the vessel’s design made it so unstable that it could have capsized in “waves of modest height”", which the inquiry maintains "has been publicly available since it was published in 1976", I would be much obliged if you could arrange for a copy or a link to the aforesaid document to be sent to us.

Many thanks for your kind assistance,

Yours sincerely,

So far, we have received no response from the AG office, but we hope that one will be coming soon.
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[*] This is rather unusual since one of Mr Morrall’s later productions for RINA: “The GAUL Disaster: An Investigation into the loss of a Large Stern Trawler” as the title implies, had no qualms in mentioning the name of the casualty that was being researched.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

FV Trident Stability - model testing

In a few days time  - more precisely on the 24th of May 2010 - the re-opened formal investigation into the sinking of FV Trident is due to reconvene.
In anticipation of that day we have read through the transcripts of evidence available so far.
In 2002 when the then Secretary of State for Transport, Mr Stephen Byers, ordered the re-opening of the Trident inquiry, we were advised that new and important evidence had been discovered that justified a new investigation into the vessel's loss.

However, after ploughing through more than 7000 pages of recorded oral evidence (from the 40 days of hearings in the Aberdeen Court), we have not been able to locate any new and important evidence!
We were also surprised to learn that, despite the technical expertise that is available to the court, the Advocate General found it necessary to seek external advice on one of the simplest concepts in Naval Architecture concerning ship stability.

AG - "It is true that raising KG is generally detrimental and lowering KG favourable and this applies to all vessels" - Do you agree with this statement Dr Schmitter? [...]
Dr S - Yes in general terms this statement is correct
AG - Right.
(Transcript of evidence of 12 November 2009)

For the benefit of those with an interest in trawler stability, we have prepared a short video clip (see below, split in two parts), which explains the significance of KG (VCG) to transverse stability. [1] [2]






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[1] KG is the height of the vertical center of gravity above the keel (also known as VCG)

[2] Unfortunately, on the Trident the VCG position was not accurately known because an inclining experiment had not been carried out.