Sunday, March 20, 2011

The MV Derbyshire final report and a self-congratulatory re-write of history

As we have revealed earlier on the MV Derbyshire blog, the 2000 Re-opened Formal Investigation (RFI) into the sinking of the 173,000 tonnes bulk-carrier failed to acknowledge the fact that the vessel’s hatch covers did not meet the minimum strength criteria applicable at the time she was built – a fact highly relevant to the stated cause of her loss.

Apart from circumventing the fact that the Derbyshire did not comply with the applicable standards, via the final report to the Derbyshire RFI, the officials also tried - in a self-congratulating, orgulous manner - to re-construct the history of the events connected with the introduction of the 1966 Load Line Convention.

We were already aware that the Department for Transport had a knack for avoiding the slightest whiff of blame or criticism, but now it appears that, no longer satisfied just with evading trouble, the Department also sought to cast themselves - unduly - in a commendable posture.

The article published today on the MV Derbyshire blog reveals that the account given in the Derbyshire RFI final report as to the UK delegation’s role at the 1966 Load Line Convention Conference was different from actuality. The report tells us that, in the name of maritime safety, the UK delegation fought for increased strength standards for hatch-covers as well as for the introduction of 'tanker freeboards' for ore carriers with steel hatch covers.
The truth, however, is somewhat different: the UK delegation’s primary objective was to obtain backing for a major reduction in freeboards for ore carriers, even smaller than the 'tanker freeboards' that had been allowed under the previous Convention; their proposal for enhanced hatch cover strength was only of secondary importance – merely a concession offered in exchange for the deeper loading they sought.
When the majority of the delegates at the Conference did not accept the UK delegation’s arguments for deeper loading, the Labour [*] government’s envoys lost interest in pursuing enhanced strength standards for hatch-covers. The Derbyshire RFI report erroneously implies that the UK’s proposal for improved hatch cover standards was a mere consolidation of UK’s standard practices prior the 1966 Convention. It was not.

The Derbyshire report also states that "the UK government cannot be criticised for failing to secure an agreement to its proposals" for increased cover strength.
As we have explained in detail HERE we do not agree with this statement. The government could certainly be criticised for the manner in which those proposals were made.
Furthermore, it can also be criticised for subsequently failing to implement the Convention’s provisions for hatch cover strength in their entirety, as well as for misinterpreting the Convention’s minimum requirements for hatch cover strength.

So, at the end of the Derbyshire investigation, there should have been someone to blame - the UK government.

[*] The Labour government under Harold Wilson


Raj said...

Perhaps Labour should publish a new edition of the "falsifiers",

"falsifiers of History" (R.F.I. edition) perhaps ?

Best Regards Raj

gadfly said...


I'm afraid that this would just take up too many trees.

Best regards