Dutch navy: submarine did not sink fishing boat
7 May 2004 , AMSTERDAM — The Dutch Royal Navy has denied allegations by French fishing industry officials that one of its submarines involved in a Nato navy exercise off the British coast rammed a French fishing boat in January, resulting in the death of its five crew members.
7 May 2004
AMSTERDAM — The Dutch Royal Navy has denied allegations by French fishing industry officials that one of its submarines involved in a Nato navy exercise off the British coast rammed a French fishing boat in January, resulting in the death of its five crew members.
Fishing representatives in Guilvinec and the adjoining harbour Loctudy in Brittany, north-western France, levelled fresh accusations against the Dutch vessel on Thursday. The head of the Guilvinec fishing association is convinced the ship was rammed during a military exercise.
The fishing boat Bugaled Breizh sunk in mysterious circumstances with five crew members on 15 January off the southern UK coast at Falmouth. The bodies of two of the victims were recovered.
Photos taken on the sea bottom of the wreck are alleged to indicate the boat was hit from under the water. Suspicion has fallen on the Dutch submarine Dolfijn, which was involved in the military exercise.
But a Dutch navy spokesman said on Friday the hr. ms. Dolfijn was on the surface of the ocean 15 to 20km from where the French ship sent out its distress call. He said it had been ruled out that the submarine had been involved in the accident.
The Dolfijn and its crew of 50 sailors was one of the first ships to assist in the rescue operation and searched in vain for survivors or victims for five hours.
Fishing sources in Loctudy — the home harbour of the sunken ship — claim the Dolfijn underwent repairs after the military exercise was completed, Dutch news agency ANP reported.
But the Dutch navy said the French were assuming that an inspection of the submarine in April was related to the alleged collision with the fishing boat. The navy claims the inspection was carried out after the Dolfijn collided with a cable in a Norwegian fjord.
The vessel — which the Dutch navy claims could not have caused the damage inflicted on the French boat — is presently moored in the Dutch port Den Helder.
The navy also dismissed claims from the French fishing sources that the crew of the Dolfijn will soon be required to give testimony in the Netherlands to determine the circumstances surrounding the sinking.
It also said a request from the French authorities to inspect the submarine has not been lodged with Dutch authorities. The French judiciary has also ruled out investigating possible Dutch involvement in the sinking, Dutch news agency Novum reported.
The Bugaled Breizh was in good working order, the crew was considered very capable and the weather on the day of the tragedy was reasonable. A Nato military exercise involving submarine combat was allegedly being conducted in the region where the boat sank.
According to reports all radio communication — possibly due to the Nato exercise — was disrupted at the time of the ship's sinking.
But both the French and British authorities — who have also ruled out an investigation into possible Dutch involvement in the collision — claim that the exercise was being conducted at a considerable distance from where the fishing boat went down.
They also claim the boat was hit and run down by a large, fast moving ship, possibly loaded with freight containers.
The BBC has previously reported the director of the Loctudy sea rescue service, Michel Cap, saying: "I can believe that on board a cargo ship they did not hear the shock of the collision, but it is impossible to believe the crew did not hear the distress signal put out by the British on channel 16".
French fishing authorities had warned in January they would open a judicial inquiry to identify the boat and its captain.
[Copyright Expatica News 2004]
Subject: Dutch news + French news