A Community Devoted to the Preservation and Practice of Celestial Navigation and Other Methods of Traditional Wayfinding
From: David Pike
Date: 2017 Jun 19, 15:16 -0700
I’ve been resisting the temptation to stick my oar into this discussion because, one, I’ve never skippered anything longer than 27 feet or acted as OOW on anything longer than 72feet, and two, because of my observations of what’s happened in the past. Whenever there’s a marine disaster, aircraft disaster, or towering inferno such as the dreadful and tragic example we’ve had in London in the last week, the media begin demanding instant answers, and journalist who were quizzing associated officials on something completely different last week now seem thoroughly briefed on all the facts?? leaking out on the current case and are demanding answers upon why this was done or that was not done. Long retired experts are wheeled out to give their opinions fuelling and expanding the story. This procedure seems to be expanding to fill the needs of providing ever increasing 24/7 news and comment.
Then, nine months or a year later when the full official report is released, we find that the disaster was rarely caused by one single factor but often by a number of smaller factors coming together in the wrong way at the wrong time. The initial speculation is often found to be way off the mark. The reason of course is that, without the full facts, all the media and retired experts can do is speculate. In the case of the USS Fitzgerald, and not wishing to ignore the tragic loss off seven lives, there will be a bridge crew able to report upon what appeared to happen, and this will be backed up with records from on-board equipment, which will be available to the Board of Inquiry, so a relatively early report can be expected. Therefore I’ll keep my own theories to myself until then.
Sometimes there can only ever be speculation even by the official enquiry, especially when all hands are lost. The tragic accident to the Royston Grange in the River Plate in 1972 https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/STV_Royston_Grange is a case in point. Sometimes it takes many years before a generally accepted cause is provided as in the case of the MV Derbyshire lost in 1980 https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/MV_Derbyshire . Other times multiple investigations never resolve themselves to a single possibility as in the case of the Great Lakes Freighter SS Edmund Fitzgerald lost in 1975 https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/SS_Edmund_Fitzgerald . Sometimes conspiracy theories continue despite being disproved by a number of official enquiries over several years as in the case of the Hull deep sea fishing factory ship Gaul https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/FV_Gaul lost in 1974. DaveP