Monday, 9 August 2010

The FV Trident Investigation – Another Public Inquiry - Another disgrace

In an earlier post we gave an overview on how the re-opened Trident casualty investigation (RFI) was being conducted and managed by the Advocate General towards an outcome that would be preferred by at least one of the departments in our current Government (the DfT).

Recently we have learnt that the JPE (the RFI’s Joint Panel of Experts) had also taken it upon themselves to rewrite the official records of Trident’s intact stability.

Work done:

The JPE have changed the official DOT lightship particulars for Trident (from those used in the original investigation):

Original investigation (OFI) 1975

Lightship displacement[1] = 149.83 tonnes (147.46 imperial tons)
VCG[2] position = 3.197m above keel (10.487 feet)
LCG[3] position = 9.971m forward of the rudder stock (3.525 feet aft of amidships)

Re-opened investigation (RFI) 2010

Lightship displacement = 153.01 tonnes
VCG position = 3.18m above keel
LCG position = 9.95m forward of the rudder stock

They have also modified the weights of the items that she was assumed to be carrying on the day of her last voyage (the original figures can be seen in the NMI/Morrall testing report page 13 and in the report of the original investigation - condition A2):
  • They increased the amount of fuel she was carrying by 1.75 tonnes to 6.75 tonnes
  • They doubled the amount of fresh water on board to 3 tonnes
  • They reduced the amount of stores in the upper focsle space from 1.5 tonnes to 0.45 tonnes and removed 1 tonne of stores from the lower focsle space
  • They reduced the weight of the fish boxes in the hold from 3.37 tonnes to 2.4 tonnes
  • They reduced the weight of the lube oil drums in the engine room by 20kg
  • They reduced the weight of fishing nets from 3.6 tonnes to 3 tonnes
  • They increased the weight of the gallows chain from 0.27 to 0.45 tonnes
  • They removed the ‘dog rope’
  • They increased the amount of engine room stores by 100kg
  • They increased the amount allowed for the crew’s effects by 90kg
In brief, the effect of the JPE’s modifications has been to increase Trident’s notional stability reserves[4] by about 10% for her final sailing and loss condition.

If we look at the stability of the Trident in both the original and the JPE-modified conditions we can see that in her original condition, Trident is clearly non-compliant with IMCO minimum stability criteria, however, after the JPE modifications have been applied, her stability improves to the point where she only marginally fails to meet the IMCO minima:

What were the motives behind the JPE’s actions?

1. To ‘update’ our official records to indicate that, contrary to the evidence contained in the report of the 1975 formal investigation and in the 1976 NMI/Morrall report, the Trident’s stability at the time of her loss 'complied substantially with IMCO'[5] minimum standards, and that, therefore, non-compliance was not a factor in her loss.

(RFI Transcript for 12 July 2010 – Advocate General page 102:)

2. To request the Sheriff to dismiss the conclusions from the original 1975 formal investigation and the subsequent model tests carried out NMI/Morrall in 1976;

(RFI Transcript for 12 July 2010, page 105:)

3. And finally to oblige the Sheriff to conclude:

(RFI Transcript for 12 July 2010, page 74)

Our conclusion

The callous way in which the current investigation into the tragic loss of the Trident and her seven crew members has been scripted by the DfT and conducted by the AG towards a pre-determined outcome reveals the depths that our Government, and those it employs, will stoop in order to maintain policies that, regardless of their warped perception of the public interest, they know are both unjust and unlawful.

This is nothing less than a national disgrace

An extended pdf version of this article is available HERE.

[1] Lightship displacement = the floating weight of the empty ship
[2] VCG = the position of the vertical centre of gravity of the ship’s weight
[3] LCG = the position of the longitudinal centre of gravity of the ship’s weight
[4] Note:  In 1975, the Court’s experts carried out a very comprehensive and careful investigation into Trident’s stability characteristics - in terms of ascertaining her empty hull weight, position of centre of gravity and the items of fishing gear, fuel, water and stores she was carrying onboard at the time of her loss. There is no substantive reason or factual basis to justify the changes that have now been carried out by the JPE.
[5] This was the stated position of the DOT throughout the 1975 Formal Investigation

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