‘Gaul’ tragedy families to gather at 40th anniversary of trawler’s loss / News / The Foreigner

The Foreigner ‘Gaul’ tragedy families to gather at 40th anniversary of trawler’s loss. Relatives of those who died in the sinking off the Norwegian coast attend memorial events in Yorkshire County’s Hull, northeast England. This weekend marks 40 years since the ship sank in the Barents Sea. The 36 crew lost their lives in ferociously stormy conditions in 1974 some 70 miles off the coast of Norway. It is the fishing city of Hull’s worst single loss of life at sea. Many have lived in uncertainty regarding the deaths under mysterious circumstances since that tragic day.

gaulsinking, barentssea, hull, memorial



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‘Gaul’ tragedy families to gather at 40th anniversary of trawler’s loss

Published on Friday, 7th February, 2014 at 16:34 under the news category, by Michael Sandelson   .
Last Updated on 7th February 2014 at 19:38.

Relatives of those who died in the sinking off the Norwegian coast attend memorial events in Yorkshire County’s Hull, northeast England.



This weekend marks 40 years since the ship sank in the Barents Sea. The 36 crew lost their lives in ferociously stormy conditions in 1974 some 70 miles off the coast of Norway.

It is the fishing city of Hull’s worst single loss of life at sea. Many have lived in uncertainty regarding the deaths under mysterious circumstances since that tragic day.

No distress signals were received, and no trace of the ship – believed to be in perfect seaworthy condition – was found during extensive aerial searches. The only item recovered was a lifebuoy some three months later.

Several conspiracy theories have circulated since the sinking during that Cold War time, including that this was carried out by a submarine.

It was also alleged the Norwegian military had installed an undersea cable in the area where the ‘Gaul’ sank. Norway’s Ministry of Defence has refuted this.

The first official inquiry in 1974 after the sinking failed to provide firm answers. In 1975, the crew of the Norwegian vessel ‘Rairo’ reported nets being snagged on an undersea obstruction at the same location the British fishing vessel went down.

Some 22 years later, in August 1997, the now late Norman Fenton found the sunken ‘Gaul’ in the Barents Sea. He was aboard the search ship he had commissioned as part of his own independent TV documentary into the tragedy.  

The then British Deputy Prime Minister John Prescott for the Labour Party asked the Department of Transport’s Marine Accident Investigation Branch (MAIB) to carry out extensive surveys of the wreck. These were conducted twice, in 1998 and 2002. Their report can be found here.

It was on the second that samples of bones and other human remains were recovered from the wreck. DNA tests conducted by the Forensic Science Service established that the remains came from three of the Gaul's crew.

They were identified as factory charge-hand Stan Collier, 40, 29-year-old James Wales, the Gaul's third engineer, and acting first mate Maurice Spurgeon, 38.

The Government then re-opened the official inquiry in 2004, but the result was still inconclusive. Now, it is hoped that DNA tests currently being carried out in Russia on remains found in the Rybachiy Peninsula might provide further answers.

This weekend’s first memorial on February 8th will see a service held at St Andrew’s Quay at 1pm. The ‘Gaul’s’ bell, recovered from 800ft below on the seabed, will be rung anew.

The second memorial, this time to the 6,000 trawlermen lost at sea, will be held on the following day by the fishing heritage group Stand. At this, an annual service, the group will erect a monument.

Officials from Norway’s Ministry of Defence confirm to The Foreigner nobody will be attending this weekend’s events in Hull. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs has yet to answer at time of writing.

UK TV broadcaster Channel 4's 'Disptaches' programme videos can be found here (external link).



Published on Friday, 7th February, 2014 at 16:34 under the news category, by Michael Sandelson   .
Last updated on 7th February 2014 at 19:38.

This post has the following tags: gaulsinking, barentssea, hull, memorial.





  
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