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)

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)


Raj said...

A merry Christmas to all.
Having read the post it would seem the document from the MAIB is little more than a series of comments and is hard to appraise as a technical document, there are however many statements of dubious accuracy.
You pointed out the following
However Trident fished in all weather conditions and had 26 tons of Herring suspended from the top of the powerblock, on one occasion.

I would have to agree with your comment in relation the 26 tons, yes 26 tons in the net supported by water but surely not 26 tons suspended in air! Someone should have realised that was just not on!

You also pointed out the following.

The evidence of Silver Lining only leads to marginal deficiencies in her
stability and that in the loaded condition not the light condition Trident was in
at the time of her loss.

This is nearly identical to statement in the press DEC 1974 by the Herring fisheries board I had never really thought about it before but as you correctly pointed out by that time the Silver Lining had ballast installed by that time . The consequence of this when applied to the Trident model using Freydn was it appeared to be ~6-7 times less likely to capsize with the ballast added however it would appear that it was totally impractical to rectify this marginal deficiency for all conditions using ballast hence the modifications to the Silver Lining. I must confess that I find it hard to understand the “marginal” when I hear figures quoted in excess of 20 tons of ballast being necessary mentioned to bring about compliance..

You also point out the question of the large net stowed in front of the wheelhouse what I find peculiar about this is in 1974-75 statements gave rise to this net and again in 2001-2 however it appeared to have been discounted in the RFI but again that improved the stability calculations!

The one thing that stands out is there is little or no mention of any files being looked at surely the MAIB would have access to all of the various files and after reading the various narratives and innuendos in the report on the subject of stability I was really surprised that there was no mention of the now shredded stability file surely if there was a question of stability it would have been the first file to read surely!

Regards Raj

gadfly said...


A Merry Xmas and A Happy New Year to you too!

We agree that it may be awkward to decide what to call this MAIB document, although it follows the standard MAIB reporting format: Synopsis, Background, Analysis, Conclusion and Annexes.
In the Analysis section it falls down dreadfully – there doesn’t seem to have been any!

Yes, it is only when the catch is lifted out of the water that its weight acts upon the powerblock head, when it is floating alongside it does not impinge upon the stability of the vessel.

The 8 ton ballast differential would have been identified in the October 1974 inclining test on the Silver Lining and accounted for in the 'items to come off' section of the DOT's derivation of Trident's lightship. This information was available to the MAIB Inspector.
We agree that if this ballast had also been installed on Trident, her range of stability would have been enhanced and that she would have been much less likely to capsize. However, although Silver Lining’s stability (with ballast) was superior to Trident’s, she was still deficient in stability when compared against the IMCO stability benchmark.
We would not categorise Silver lining's stability deficiencies as marginal – if structural modifications were necessary to obtain compliance with IMCO minimum standards, then this was a serious deficiency.

The RFI's experts appear to have been quite adept with figures when they were looking for a particular outcome.

Your last point is of course the critical one, the MAIB's Chief Inspector has confirmed that they had access to all MCA files and that these would have been examined by MAIB, he even went as far as accepting that they had seen MCA file nos MS 7/8/0125, MS 7/9/0318 & CM 40047/18/02 - files which are of low import if you are interested in Trident’s intact stability, as the MAIB said they were.

Best regards,


Raj said...

I see you have quoted the file numbers that the MAIB have looked at, none which include the intact stability file or it would seem the NMI report (1976)? It is rapidly becoming a total mystery to me why the original NMI tests and the intact stability files do not appear to be referenced to in any of the proceedings thus far and as you correctly pointed out in your second post there is references only to the capsizing of small trawlers paper. ( For new viewers thats the one that does not mention the Trident by name !)
Understandably Mr Clinch appears somewhat defensive of his Board finding suggestions of impartiality and incompetence offensive, assuming that a third option of being themselves duped by the higher powers is totally outrageous it could be the case that there was a simpler fourth option that they have indeed steered a predetermined course for them avoiding the maritime hazards of MS 9/12/09 and the 76 NMI report.

Best Regards Raj

Anonymous said...

At the start of this RFI Miss Wilson warned the families of a possible impending inconvenient truth! I think that taking the fourth option rather opens the door for a possible all too convenient lie ! We the families hope not
Best regards