Tuesday, March 01, 2011

FV Trident RFI - More from the Department for Truth

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.


Raj said...


Did Sheriff Young comment on your point?

"* 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.
I realize he commented on how difficult it was to estimate light ship conditions I assume this would have been more accurate with a final inclining test, after all one was specified!

I can wholeheartedly agree that it should have been easy to arrange the ballast etc in the model to prove conclusively that IMCO compliance would have made a difference but then again who would have had most to lose?

Best Regards Raj

Raj said...

The families were informed via the
Whatdotheyknow website that a marine safety file MS 92/12/09 entitled " intact stabilty inrelation to the Trident" was destroyed don`t suppose you know if there are any other copies available ? if that is the file you are referring to of course!

Best Regards Raj

Raj said...

On the subject of the NMI report being dismissed "out of hand" the description of what happened may have been interpreted differently however the still shots of the model capsizing in both tests looked remarkably similar in my eyes!

Best Regards Raj

gadfly said...


The capsizes did look similar, however, there is absolutely no evidence that the 'designer' waves generated during the MARIN tests, described by the Sheriff as as very precisely generated, had the same characteristics as those experienced by Trident on the day of her loss.

By the same logic, there is even less evidence to show that the "crude and haphazard" waves generated during the NMI tests were a poorer representation of the waves on the day of the loss.

There are, as you know, conflicting reports on the weather and sea state for the 3rd of October 1974.
Some reports claim that the sea was confused, while the video from the MARIN model tests shows one regular mega-wave on the stern quarter as the cause of capsize.

gadfly said...


I think that Sheriff Young just plain forgot to mention the importance of inclining experiments.

Although he should have been prompted on this matter when he decided to discuss the difficulties of lightship estimation and it being an inexact science etc. etc.

Best regards

Mrs Jeannie Ritchie said...

Dear Gadfly
After reading your posts and the comments,I would like to state what we think

The Sheriff Principal was not interested as he report shows in ANYTHING that the Council for the Inquiry and her Band THE JBE did not like
On reading the report,where does he really investigate the loss of Trident

Imco Not important
Inclining test Not important
Checking the difference that Ballast would have made
Not important
With regards to the weather
Well where does he get that Fairy Tale from
I could go no and on.

What does he have to say about the statement made in court under oath by the ex Skipper of Silver Lining how after modifications it became like a Lifeboat before it was like a Submarine

What comment does he make about in April 1974, Silver Lining had 2 Tons of Ballast added and in July/August 1974 another 8 tons of ballast added?
What does he think of the FACT that the White Fish 2 months before Trident sank they the White Fish gave Silver Lining its Stability Booklet and gave the same booklet to Trident only DIFFERENCE Silver Lining had then 10 Tons of Ballast Trident NONE
To me that was false booklet

What did they do to TRIDENT?
Nothing they just ignored it and left it to sail,result 2 months later 7 men died that could have been avoided.
Were is the Sheriff head?

I could go on and on Gadfly and point out all the facts that cost these men their lives
These lives were very important not just to the widows and their young children.

In conclusion I would like to expain what I saw in the court in this RFI from the first hour and continued watching for 40 days until out Legal Team withdrew from us BECAUSE we found the NMI report which was kept HIDDEN for 34 Years
from us and they would not present it on our behalf,even though it was a court production!!

The court room door opens

In comes the leader of the Band (Council for the Inquiry) with her group of musicians (the JPE) followed by the Sheriff and his Group.
The BAND LEADER played all the tunes put forward by her Musicians,all day for 40 days.
Problem was most of the time the Band leader in the middle of her tunes had to stop and ask her musicians what to do and say next

I,was lightheaded watching the Yellow Post it Notes going forward and backwards all day long.

On asking at lunch time ,to a member of the JPE ,why are you passing notes all day.
Result I get a verbal warning from the lawyer for the council of the inquiry
Speak to the JPE and you will be reported to the Bench
I really thoughtthat this was a RFI into the loss of Trident but they had other ideas

The Sheriff what did he do, nothing sat and smiled and said
" Band leader what next "!!
Who ran the RFI was without a doubt the JPE through the mouth of the Band leader ,Council for the Inquiry
Maybe Gadfly I shall write a book about all the ongoings but I have more inportant things to do now!!

Widow and daughter of Trident

gadfly said...

Mrs Ritchie,

I would like to suggest to the Band Leader and her group of roving musicians that the finale hasn't been played yet.

Best regards

Jeannie Ritchie said...

Dear Gadfly,
Had to take a break to continue with my latest novel.
The only time I saw the leader of the band drop her batton with an audible sigh is when Tony Tait of Seafish agreed that inclining tests were important it could have been the audible sigh that prevented th$e sheriff from taking notice ,
There was another occasion when the batton may have been dropped when Dr Schmittner commented that the stability was already low however I`m not to sure as I was deafened by the sounds of flying post-it pads flying between the JPE at the time.
I hope and prey that all seafarers around the world have what the men of the Trident did not have a safety net i.e. sufficient stability.

Best Regards Jeannie Ritchie

gadfly said...

We agree with your sentiments - there are rules and standards that are meant to protect seafarers from the perils of the sea and the ships they sail on – however sometimes mistakes are made and if the mistakes are not recognised for what they are - they will be repeated.

Best regards

Jeannie Ritchie said...

Dear Gadfly
This is certainly part of the exercise
Save Lives,Lessons earned
Me today could be you tomorrow.

But our Dept would rather hide their heads in the sand hoping the problem goes away until the NEXT TIME
We the families of Trident can live with the TRUTH but not with LIES and that was what this RFI was all about

10 Years to prepare for the RFI a disgrace double check all the files and make sure they Shredded everyone of them with the name Stability of Trident

Widow and daughter of Trident.

Anonymous said...


So lets just see if I’ve caught the gist of what you’ve been saying on this blog:

When the Trident was built, in 1973, it should have been tested to find the position of its centre of gravity (VCG) and then have its stability reserves checked against the requirements – but this did not happen

So it sailed off without anybody knowing whether it was fully stable

In mid-1974, the Trident’s designer together with surveyors from Whitefish and the DOT discovered that the Trident’s sister vessel had serious stability problems and 8 tons of permanent ballast were added.

Unfortunately this information was not passed on and no extra ballast was installed in Trident

In October 1974 the Trident capsized and sank in moderate weather

In 1975, official investigators thought it likely that Trident capsized and sank because she didn’t have enough stability

Whitefish and DOT surveyors then agreed that her sister vessel needed to be lengthened by 10 feet to cure her stability problems

In 1976, a National Maritime Institute report said that sea-keeping tests on a model of Trident showed it capsizing in moderate sea conditions due to insufficient stability and that an additional series of tests had proved that it was the position of the centre of gravity (VCG) that was at fault.

The DfT then kept this report under lock and key for 30 years until it was dusted off for the new investigation

In the period 2002-2011 the DfT spent more than £7m on surveys, MARIN model tests and a whole host of specialists, lawyers and the like whose sole endeavour appears to have been to try and prove that ‘something’ other than deficient stability was responsible for Trident’s loss

Meanwhile in 2005, the DfT decided to destroy the folder, which contained the details and data from the NMI tests, including videos and information on Trident’s stability

In 2009-10 the official investigators refused to look into the NMI report and looked instead at a different document (one which did not include the NMI conclusion concerning the ‘unfavourable’ VCG position) and based on that, decided that the NMI report had been superseded by their MARIN tests

In 2011, the Sheriff decided that he did not agree with the findings on stability from the first official investigation and also decided to ignore the evidence from the NMI model tests. Instead he agreed to accept the expert panel’s notion that some unique characteristic of Trident (unfortunately one which could not be identified) when combined with the sea conditions on 3 October 1974 caused the Trident to suddenly capsize and founder.

What a load of ……………….

Anonymous said...


Thanks for sharing this link - but unfortunately it seems to be down? Does anybody here at the-trawler-gaul.blogspot.com have a mirror or another source?


gadfly said...

Anonymous @ 1:41 am

Many thanks for your synopsis of the Trident case. I would also mention that your list could be slightly improved by adding the following to your timeline:

2001 discovery of the wreck - followed by an underwater survey of the wreck by MAIB

2002 - MAIB sends a confidential report to the DfT minister and this leads to the formal investigation being re-opened with terms of reference stating that the whole of the case should be reheard (this allowed official investigators to exercise considerable freedoms as well as giving them the right to challenge the findings from the initial investigation)
2006 - an additional unnecessary underwater survey carried out by DfT and the official experts - looking to find evidence to justify their theories
2007 - a very limited set of model tests carried out at MARIN in the Netherlands using 'designer' weather and wave conditions to obtain capsizes of a model whose particulars did not correspond with those of Trident when lost

Best regards