Learning from marine Incidents II - 13-14 March 2002

RINA, Nautical Instute and MAIB censor paper about marine accident investigations


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On 13-14 March 2002 the conference of the Royal Institution of Naval Architects, the Marine Accident Investigation Board and the Nautical Institute about

Learning from marine Incidents II

took place at London. See attached program! The printed program was sent out early February to several thousands interested parties and included a paper by Heiwa Co. Read the paper!

On 22 February 2002 the organizers informed Heiwa Co

"I have been contacted by the Reviewing Committee regarding your paper, they have informed me that while your paper has considerable merits and could prove valuable they are concerned that the second half of your paper constitutes attacks on people rather than processes and for that reason in its current form they feel unable to accept it".

Heiwa Co requested information about, e.g. the persons of the Reviewing Committee and what items constituted attacks on people rather than processes and why the Reveiewing Committee felt unable to accept it.

The only reply was on 28 February 2002

"I apologise if it was not made 100% clear when your abstract was accepted that all conference papers are subject to a final review before inclusion in RINA conferences. I have forwarded your comments to the technical co-ordinator for the conference and await his response. However as matters stand at this time the RINA cannot accept your paper for publication or presentation at the conference".

In view of the fact that the organizers refused to inform who the persons of the Reviewing Committee were and what items constitued 'attacks on people' (was it paragraph 5.19 about incompetent politicians meddling in the accident investigation or 5.22 about accident investigators and marine civil servants providing false information?) Heiwa Co decided not to attend the conference in spite of having made all the necessary arrangements (including paying air tickets that the organizers never reimbursed).

On 19 March 2002 the organizers informed

"You state that you were invited to speak at the conference. This is incorrect. You submitted an abstract of your proposed paper in response to the First Announcement and Call for Papers. Your abstract was accepted subject to review of the full paper. A comparison of the abstract (which was published in the provisional program before your paper was received) with the full paper attached to your email clearly shows that it gave no indication of the contentious elements in your paper".

Actually Heiwa Co had submitted a synopsis of the paper in November and had then been invited to submit the full paper, which had been submitted in good time. There was no mention of a later review and censorship. The synopsis (or abstract) was not published in the (provisional - sic) program - it was the Summary of the full paper and the Programme was evidently the final, accepted one. Further from the organizers

"You state that your invitation to speak was withdrawn. This is incorrect. You will be aware that acceptance of an Abstract does not constitute a right of the author to present his paper, at any reputable conference. Your paper was reviewed, as were all other papers received, and it was considered that whilst it undoubtedly had considerable merit and contained elements which could prove valuable, the second half of the paper contained attacks on people rather than processes which were inappropriate to the subject of the conference. I believe that those who have had the opportunity to read your paper will concur with this view. I should also point out that the decision not to accept your paper was made by The Royal Institution of Naval Architects, and not by the MAIB or the Nautical Institute".

Heiwa Co considers it very strange that thousands of invitations are sent out to attend the Conference with a programme indicating a Heiwa Co paper and that it is later removed from the programme. Evidently you do not do that unless Heiwa Co was invited to the conference. The invitation was withdrawn by an e-mail of 28 March 2002, two weeks before the conference. Further from the organizers:

"You state that you sought clarification but none was given. This is incorrect. I refer you to our emails of 28 Feb, 1 and 8 March, in which we re-iterated the reasons for not accepting your paper".

Heiwa Co has still not receievd any information about the Reviewing Committee, what items of the paper were considered inappropriate and why and how it comes that RINA, the Nautical Institute and the Marine Accident Investigation Board censor a serious paper about learning from marine accidents and withdraw the invitation to the speaker. Furthermore from the organizers:

"You state that your "speech" was censored by The Royal Institution of Naval Architects. This is incorrect, and indeed is an unworthy accusation to make against an internationally renowned professional institution, and one which has given much space in its journals for such views on the Estonia incident to be expressed. The Institution recognises and respects your right to hold the views you do, and to express them in the proper forum. The "Learning from Marine Incidents" conference was not a proper forum".

On the same day (19 March 2002) of the above letter from the conference organizers The Times of London wrote in its editorial:


Deceit is justified in wartime, rarely in peace

... Deception is the hallmark of good strategy. The general who misleads his opponents and take advantage of their confusion saves lives and wins battles. In every war, intelligence plays as great a role as armour. ... Deception must implicate not only the enemy but one's one side also. Many were the instances ... when official announcements covered up the truth, hid losses or mislead opinion.

The morality here is obvious.: the arsenal of democracy must include poisonous words. The morality of peacetime deception is far less clear. Western intelligence routinely fed lies into the public domain for 40 years during the Cold War, hoping that the communists would fall for myths created by covert CIA funding ... The target of such deception were Western institutions themselves: newspapers, public organisations and even democratic institutions. The strategy was not only risky but counter-productive. Covert funding, if revealed, discredited the benficiary; false statements undermined public trust; lies, when exposed, provoked political cynicism. ...

And news management comes close to falsehood ...: spinning is now seen as not an adjunct to but an enemy of democracy. ... There are still obvious areas where truth is harmful. ... can all require categorical denial of what has been truthfully revealed or blurted out. ... The fight against terrorism is, of its nature, covert, deceptive and underhand. In all other battles democracies employ such methods only at hugh cost.

The Times of London has a good understanding of the situation. Incompetent Swedish politicians ordered a falsified accident investigation 5.19 and Estonian, Finnish and Swedish marine civil servants providied false information about the accident investigation 5.22 . The truth of the Estonia accident cover-up 1994-1997 cannot even be discussed at a RINA, Natutical Institute and Marine Accident Investigation Board conference in London 2002 about what we can learn from marine incidents. The cost will be hugh! The shipping industry has already wasted more than SEK 2 650 millions on useless means of safety at sea since the Estonia accident due to the falsfied Estonia investigation. And not one life has been saved ... only more people killed.


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Up! Published 22 March 2002.