HC Deb 25 November 1974 vol 882 cc20-1W
Mr. McNamara

asked the Secretary of State for Trade whether he will make a statement on the loss of the Hull trawler "Gaul".

Mr. James Johnson

asked the Secretary of State for Trade when he expects to make a statement concerning the findings of his investigation into the disappearance of the Hull trawler "Gaul".

Mr. Clinton Davis

The court of formal investigation into the loss of the Hull trawler "Gaul" found that the vessel capsized and foundered due to being overwhelmed by a succession of heavy seas.

Although the court found no direct evidence of how this tragedy occurred, it commented on a number of possible contributory factors. In particular, the court emphasised the importance of discouraging the practice of turning from a position of safety and running before the wind in adverse weather conditions, thus placing the vessel beam on to the sea; the dangers of diminished stability when a vessel is running with the sea; the dangers of using automatic steering when hove to; and the importance which must be attached to warnings in stability data on such vessels, especially as regards the accumulation of water on the factory deck. I shall ensure that full publicity is given to these comments.

The court also recomended that the design of freeing ports should be reviewed; expressed its hope that nine recommendations by my Department for improvements to the design of the "Gaul's" sister ships would be pursued; and gave encouragement to my Department's study of techniques for providing an immediate alert when an accident has happened, for locating the last position of vessels lost without warning and for facilitating the investigation of such losses. All these matters are being pursued urgently.