http://www.digitaljournal.com/article/363786

Op-Ed: Will relatives of crew, 'missing' on the Gaul, receive answers? Special

Posted Dec 11, 2013 by Eileen Kersey
In 1974 a trawler fishing out of Hull, in Yorkshire, went missing with the loss of all hands. Mystery and controversy surrounded the disappearance of the "Gaul" but now DNA tests being carried out on bodies found in Russia could provide answers.
Grandad on shore leave in the USA-he is the man wearing a bowler hat!
Grandad on shore leave in the USA-he is the man wearing a bowler hat!
Kingston-upon-Hull was a traditional sea-faring city. Once the third largest port in the UK the people of Hull were sadly used to news of trawlers going down.
As a child this Digital Journalist remembers too many news reports of trawlers lost at sea. Images of distraught family members waiting at the dock-side for news were commonplace. When the Gaul vanished off the face of the earth she had been married just over a year.
The disappearance of the Gaul was a different matter altogether. When it vanished in 1974 its final whereabouts were unknown. In 1997 the wreck was located but mystery still surrounded the vessels sinking and its crew. That situation continues.
Theories included the Gaul being a spy ship and that it was sunk. Hull Daily Mail reports Wednesday: Families have been searching for answers for almost 40 years after the Gaul disappeared during a fierce storm in the Barents Sea in February 1974, 80 miles off Norway. The entire 36-man crew were lost.
An earlier official inquiry proved inconclusive. According to Wikipedia:
On 17 December 2004 the RFI concluded that these open chutes, doors and hatches had compromised the ship's watertight integrity and, combined with a following (and as already noted, heavy) sea led to flooding on the factory deck. The RFI also postulated that an attempted emergency manoeuvre by the Gaul's officer of the watch (a perfectly logical move to try to turn 'into the sea') caused 100 tonnes of floodwater to surge across to the starboard side of the ship leading to capsize and a catastrophic loss of stability.
Further flooding then took place through open doors, chutes and hatches until the Gaul lost her reserves of buoyancy, she then sank very rapidly, stern first. The report of the RFI dismissed the notion that Gaul was involved in espionage or that she was in a collision. It found that she was not fishing at the time of her loss, which indicated that no snagging (of the nets) could have occurred. In the immediate wake of the report, relatives of the crew said they were not satisfied.
The people of Hull have always mourned the loss of the Gaul and her crew. What happened to the vessel and its crew has been a source of speculation for years and a terrible burden for the crews' loved ones.
40 years is a long time, and children of the Gaul's crew are now grown, with their own families, and of course some relatives have passed away.
News of tests on bodies washed ashore having links to the Gaul are nothing new. In 1999 news that four bodies washed up on the Russian coast were undergoing tests raised hopes but these were soon dashed.
In 1974 many locals in the west of the city of Hull knew someone with links to the Gaul. In the close-knit fishing community of the city personal loss was huge.
Work on trawlers was always tough. My late father-in-law worked these vessels as a second-engineer, on ships fishing in Icelandic waters, until in 1962 a winch slipped and sliced off the fingers of one hand. The journey to a hospital in Reykjavik was almost as bad as the accident. Carried high over rough, freezing cold seas in a "cradle" to another vessel it was as well he had received a high dose of pain easing drugs first.
My father as a young child  with an image of his father  my late grandad  superimposed. It dates to ...
My father as a young child, with an image of his father, my late grandad, superimposed. It dates to about 1916
My grandfather, an engineer in the Merchant Nay died at sea years before I was born. The people of Hull have a long and sometimes painful history with the sea.
This Digital Journalists' former MP, and former Deputy Prime Minister of the UK, John Prescott tweeted Wednesday, "I really hope the families of the missing Gaul seamen can find some closure with this new development."
That is what local people will hope too.