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Following the latest news in the press regarding the emergence yesterday of "an unpublished government report which concluded that the vessel’s design made it so unstable that it could have capsized in “waves of modest height”", which the inquiry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.
[*] 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.


RAJ said...


The reason for the above stated it would appear is due in no small part to the 1976 investigation having two distinct functions (three if you were to count the proposed modifications of her sister ship Silver Lining.)

1. As research and published as such in the popular 1979 paper.
2. As part of the inquiry into the loss.

The simple fact that it has not been mentioned in relation to the 1975 OFI or the 2009 RFI I believe is simply outrageous.
The irony of being critized for court costs etc. is amplified when it is now clear that the "Department" had already carried out the testing in 1976 and had choosen not to inform the families.
The sad fact is that here we are 34 years after the document was "published" still arguing about the loss when in reality this should have been addressed and people could have moved on with their lives.

Best Regards RAJ

gadfly said...


Yes, "uproar" was, perhaps, an inappropriate choice of word, but the government's approach to maritime casualty investigation should definitely generate public uproar. It's about time..

Best regards,

RAJ said...

Yes, I believe the terms "horrified, shocked, disgusted and abhorred" were used.
"uproar" did not really sum up the strength of feeling.