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…)

[*] 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.


Anonymous said...

Well maybe they should remember that the scots are also tribal people in that context. I know u wont post this..i am the son of James Tait..lost aboard Trident,Disgrace that 3 Q,cs would even argue against the overwhelming evidence against the bare facts..Disgrace!!! Maybe im the last cannibal but im not eaten that easily!

Anonymous said...

This must be the funniest blog on the internet.
I didn't think that you could surpass the video with the 'Vital Spark' in your bathtub, but this latest one has me rolling with laughter. A government department has forged a legal document, come on now Ron, which planet are you on.

Keep up the funnies.

gadfly said...

Mr Tait,

I've always hoped that the Scots would be a bit too tough to chew.

Wish you good luck in your fight for an honest and fair conclusion to the Trident RFI.

Best regards,


gadfly said...

Anonymous @ 8:21 AM,

I am glad my blog amuses you. I will strive to amuse you further.

A government department forging a legal document?! How absurd to even think of that?! Governments, after all, have limits to the extent to which they bamboozle us, don’t they?

'Legal' document? Even the head of the MAIB doesn’t seem to know its status.

And, by the way, my name is not Ron.

Have a nice day!

Anonymous said...

Dear Gadfly

We wish to thank you for the interest and effort which you have taken to show how OUR Department for Transport and MAIB have handled this RFI,FAI into the loss of Trident and the death of 7 men, OUR menfolk.This is no laughting matter,believe me.

I have been reading with great interest what Our Maib have done.
I recall when the Tridents Sister Ship the Silver Lining, renamed the Persiver,renamed Celestial Dawn (Which was working in Spain for its Irish owners)went aground on the rocks at Dingley Harbour in Ireland on the 12th March 2002.
On speaking to OUR Chief Inspector of the Maib ,he confirmed that this was correct.
On speaking to the Irish owners on the 13th March 2002 I was informed that the vessel was being taken to either Belgium or the Netherlands to be scrapped.
I again informed Our Maib,pointing out that this vessel was the sister ship of Trident.

You can imagine how AMAZED I was when we traced the vessel on the 15 of April 2002 and saw that it had been scrapped immediately.
It was scrapped in the Scrapyard HKS,Metals in the Netherlands.
We the families would have expected that the Trident,s Sister Ship even though it had been modified for its stabiity would have given information for the RFI into loss of Trident.

But of course someone in High Places had another Idea!!!
Scrapping the Sister Ship 3 weeks after the RFI was granted !!!
Our Chief Inspectors had already made a visit to the Celestial Dawn after the Wreck of Trident was found to measure its Keel etc
How SAD The Marine Team for the families did not get the same opportunity.
All this does not surprise us the families in the least, we now have the confirmation from the Department for Transport that they have Shredded the vital document Intact Stability of Trident in 2005 three years after the RFI was granted on the 28th March 2002
I am sure you will understand why we the families have lost all FAITH in this RFI,FAI into loss of Trident.
Rest assured we shall search for the Truth wherever.

Mrs Jeannie Ritchie

Raj said...

In reply to Anonymous at 8.21 AM
"This must be the funniest blog on the internet"

After the NMI report disclosure on May 2010 not 1976 (1) I fail to see the funny side, families could have had closure 34 years ago instead they have had the turmoil of the last eight years. Would the government have shown them the document if a RFI had not been sanctioned ? well I think not because they never showed them the document entitled "Stability relating to the Trident"
choosing to dispose of posible evidence during the process of the RFI, no doubt you think that`s funny as well?

1. As a footnote the first time the families saw that document was May 2010 that is a fact unlike the statement from the OAG which stated the document was published in 1976 and freely available to the public. That on the otherhand is not fact that is pure fiction.

AJT said...

I read with sadness the fact that someone is rolling with laughter over comments made about the Trident RFI. The poor souls on the Trident rolled too albeit not with laughter. They rolled to there deaths on an unstable boat. Proverbs 20:10 “The Lord hates both these things: dishonest weights and dishonest measures.” We the families will not rest untill the TRUTH be told about Trident. Thanks to Gadfly for you time and effort.
Best regards,

Anonymous said...

Jeannie Ritchie

Anonymous 8.21
I,m sorry to say you do not know the real world where Boys in Grey Scrap vessels,Shredd vital documents all during a Fatal Accident Inquiry.
Then of course maybe you are in the inside of the Boys in Grey in London and do know!!
Them who laugh last laugh loudest or so they say.
Most people take off their hats to the like of Gadfly,a true, correct ,human person who believes in justice,this justice if not forthcoming from the Department for Transport and the OAG for the families and men who died on Trident.
Maybe you Anonymous also roll with laughter at the thought of the 3 million underwater survey which was carried out on the wreck of Trident which was a complete shambles ,they did not even get a complete measurement of the wreck the only thing they did was cut the wreck open and leave the remains of the men open to the elements.
Stand up, do not be a coward ,give your name ,don,t hide.
Have principals like Gadfly you coward

May God have pity on the like of you
I have, for you are SICK

Mrs Jeannie Ritchie

gadfly said...

Mrs Ritchie,

Many thanks for your comments, we do not find any mirth in what has happened and is still happening to you in this lengthy formal 'investigation' either (8 years now – this in unprecedented).

The real cause for the loss of the Trident will eventually emerge - if not from this process, then from without.

RAJ and AJT,

We agree with your sentiments and are also indignant with the fact that, after 36 years of evasion and unnecessary delays, to be messed about and then denied the truth in the most 'in your face' manner possible is not only offensive, it is callous.

Best regards to all