Pengolodh (s.c) (pengolodh_sc) wrote,
Pengolodh (s.c)

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Gaul Inquiry: '1974 sinking of Hull-registered trawler GAUL not deliberate'

The GAUL was a (then) modern stern freezer trawler homeported in the city of Hull in Northern England. In February 1974, in the greatest disaster to befall the British fishing industry in peacetime, the 18 months old trawler went down during a storm in the Barents Sea North of Norway, without having sent out MayDay-signals. All 36 crewmembers (30 from Hull, six from North Shields) were lost.

Following the sinking, there were considerable rumours that the sinking was not accidental, but caused by the trawler being involved in gathering intelligence on the Soviets for British authorities. Speculations included torpedoes from Russian submarines, a submarine getting caught in the trawl and pulling the ship down, large waves from underwater nuclear explosions overwhelming the vessel, and more. Many of the berieved believed British authorities have attempted to cover up the true cause of the sinking, to cover up British military intelligence efforts in the Barents Sea. The speculations were seen as being strengthened by the fact that numerous other trawlers, including two sisterships of GAUL, rode out the storm without being in danger or need of assistance.

In 1997 the wreck of the Gaul was finally discovered, and an inquiry into the sinking was opened. In 2002 the remains of four of the missing crewmembers were retrieved and identified with DNA.

Today the commission performing the inquiry delivered the report on its finding. In the view of the commission, the sinking was not deliberate, but caused by flooding of the factory-deck and hold in storm, via open duff and offal chutes. The commission could find no evidence supporting various speculative Cold War related theories put forth, and in many cases has found evidence to specifically rule out such speculative theories.

BBC-report: Trawler sinking 'not deliberate'
Report Overview (PDF)
Report Part 1 (PDF)
Report Part 2 (PDF)

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