Friday, 14 May 2010

FV Trident Inquiry – the Joint Panel of Experts

The Aberdeen Press and Journal informed us this weekend about the latest goings-on in the Trident inquiry. It was thus that we learned that Mr Martin Pullinger, [*] naval architect and retained expert for the majority of the Trident victims’ families, was criticised by the advocate acting for the vessel’s designer for having formed an opinion on Trident’s stability "without the knowledge required", a claim which the advocate defended by citing Mr Pullinger’s decision to defer matters relating to the Trident’s seakeeping ability to Professor Colin MacFarlane.

We are thus given to understand that Professor MacFarlane’s unique expertise in the arcane subject of seakeeping should preclude other experts from having opinions not only on the subject of seakeeping but also on issues of stability in general (issues deemed up until now to be the bread and butter of any naval architect).

How odd is it then to read pages 64 and 65 of the transcripts of evidence from the inquiry for the 4th of November 2009 about the following exchange, which took place during that day’s hearings:

Cross-examination by MR ANDERSON: […] Well perhaps you could tell us then, Professor MacFarlane, what exactly is it about the prevailing sea conditions which has combined with the specific sea-keeping characteristics of the Trident to cause this to capsize?

WITNESS [Professor MacFarlane]:  I do not know […] I do not know the specific sea-keeping characteristics of the Trident at this stage which combined with those sea conditions caused it to capsize.

SHERIFF PRINCIPAL YOUNG: Sorry. You don’t know?

[1] Mr Pullinger, it’s been reported, has refused to concur with the conclusions of the Joint Panel of Experts  - which did not mention static stability as a potential contributing factor to the loss of the vessel - and has submitted his own report to the inquiry. 

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