In a press release issued by the DfT on 24th February 2011, concerning the outcome from the Formal Investigation into the loss of the FV Trident, the Department gave a summary of the Sheriff Principal’s findings, advising us that his report contained:
A complete rejection that a 1976 NMI report provides the answer to the loss of Trident
We have carefully looked through Sheriff Young’s report and noted his comment on the National Maritime Institute’s (NMI) Trident report dated 22 October 1976:
This report was the subject only of brief passing references during the inquiry
We have also noted that a subsequent technical paper, released to the public in 1979 by Dr A. Morrall and entitled "Capsizing of small Trawlers", repeated a substantial part of Dr. Morrall’s earlier NMI work, and that it was only this published paper that was examined by the Court in, as the Sheriff puts it, "considerable detail in the course of the evidence".
Yet, the Sheriff ventures to form an opinion on the NMI report from, presumably, a mere examination of this later technical paper:
In my opinion the NMI report is of no assistance to this court in explaining the loss of the Trident.
So we are left to conclude that the Sheriff’s weakly stated opinion, based upon his examination of a similar but different document, amounts to, in the DfT’s words, a "complete rejection".
1. The 1976 NMI report contained a number of important conclusions that were not carried over into Dr. Morrall’s subsequent public report, one of which is reproduced below:
later experiments in which either displacement or GM were increased proved conclusively that the hull shape itself was not at fault but rather its weight distribution which produced an unfavourable value of GM [i.e. an unfavourable position for the Trident’s vertical centre of gravity VCG * ]
2. The complete Trident intact stability research folder, which included tank test video evidence from the National Maritime Institute, was allegedly destroyed by the DfT in 2005.
* The position of the VCG on the Trident was unknown at the time of her capsize, as an inclining experiment was not carried out on completion and prior to her departure from the building yard.