A Coroner’s report is due today on the sinking of the Bugaled Breizh. Photo: AFP
A Coroner’s Report on the sinking of the French-registered Bugaled Breizh off the coast of Cornwall seventeen-years ago is due out today.
The Bugaled Breizh sank in mysterious circumstances on the 15 January 2004 when it was trawling off the Lizard Peninsula with the loss of all five crew. Two bodies of crewmen, Pascal Le Floch and Yves Gloaguen were recovered from the water after the sinking and brought to land by the HM Coastguard Search and Rescue helicopter. Another crew member was recovered later during another operation and brought to France, whilst the bodies of the other two crew members have never been recovered.
In 2016 the French justice system closed the case, but the families of the crew believe that the tragedy was caused by a military submarine.
“Come quickly, I’m sinking,” were the last words the skipper said on his radio, in a bid to attract the help of another fishing boat which was located a few minutes away.
Although a cause of the tragedy has never been legally determined, two main theories exist.
One points to a fishing accident, with the boat being pulled down by its nets which got caught on something, or that of a submarine which got caught up in the boat’s cables and dragged the boat under.
The Inquest into the deaths of Pascal Le Floch and Yves Gloaguen was held in London as their bodies were taken to the UK after they were recovered from the sea.
During the Inquest, Judge Nigel Lickley heard from the British Ministry of Defence, that although there was a NATO operation in the vicinity, none of there submarines were in the area the Bugaled Breizh was operating in, and one of their submarines, the HMS Turbulent, that has been suspected of sinking the fishing vessel was in fact in dry dock that day under repairs.
Submarines from Germany and the Netherlands was also involved in the NATO operation but none of neither of them could be placed in the vicinity of the Bugaled Breizh.
The Inquest heard that it was possible that the boats trawl nets became stuck on the seabed during its tow.
Captain Yusuf Soomro, an independent maritime investigator, conducted an analysis of the evidence gathered by France’s marine accidents investigation body Bureau d’Enquetes sur les Evenements de Mer (BeaMer).
In his evidence, Captain Soomro said that the trawling rig was found on the seabed relatively intact which indicated and did not show any level of damage consistent with being entangled with a fast-moving and powerful underwater object such as an attack submarine.
He said that the port trawl door had become buried in sediment and mud close to a depression in the seabed.
Captain Soomro said that it was likely that the weight on the port trawl door had caused the net to close, putting a huge amount of pressure on one of the trawl warps, connecting the net to the boat.
Once the vessel was snagged and reached an angle of 30 degrees, the capsize would have happened very rapidly.
He said that there was evidence the crew had tried to rectify the situation by releasing the port warp as it was found to be 140 metres longer than the starboard warp.
The Coroner’s Report is due to be released at midday today.