World 'I'm sinking': UK court told of French trawler's final call
London inquest seeks to solve mystery sinking of French trawler
A coroner's inquest opens in London on Monday into the mysterious sinking of a French fishing trawler 17 years ago, which the victims' families blame on a submarine. French courts spent years investigating the sinking of the Bugaled Breizh in international waters off Cornwall, southwest England, on January 15, 2004. But there has never been a full explanation about what happened.The ship's crew of five French nationals -- Yves Gloaguen, Pascal Le Floch, Georges Lemetayer, Patrick Gloaguen, and Eric Guillamet -- all perished in the sinking.
The skipper of a stricken French trawler radioed "I'm capsizing, come quickly" as the vessel sank 17 years ago, a London inquest was told Tuesday as it probed whether the tragedy was caused by a submarine.
Serge Cossec, who captained another French trawler, the Eridan, said he heard the call made by Yves Gloaguen on the Bugaled Breizh moments before the ship went down.
Bugaled Breizh shipwreck: British justice tries to make the light
© AFP - Marcel Mochet The wreck of the Bugaled Breizh trawler in the military arsenal of Brest for the investigators to continue their investigations, the 15 July 2004. In 2004, Bugaled Breizh sank in seconds off England. British justice will try from this Monday, October 4 to shed light on the sinking of this French trawler who had killed five marine.
The families of the five crew who died in the tragedy hope the three-week investigation will confirm their belief that the trawler was dragged down by a submarine.
The Eridan was fishing around 14 nautical miles off the coast of Cornwall in southwest England on January 15, 2004, some three or four miles from the Bugaled Breizh.
"At 13:25, I got a call from the skipper of the Bugaled Breizh telling me that she was capsizing without telling me why," Cossec told the court by video-link.
Weather conditions at the time were fair, he said, recalling that Gloaguen said: "I'm capsizing, come quickly."
Cossec told the court that he asked "what's going on?" but got the same response.
Gloaguen's voice was "not like usual... he seemed to be wondering himself what was happening," he added.
Dutch sub not at fault before French trawler sunk: navy
A Dutch navy submarine seen at the site of the 2004 sinking of a French fishing trawler was not operating unsafely in the run-up to the tragedy, a London court was told Monday. But asked if the Dutch submarine Dolfijn made a mistake or acted improperly on the day, Captain Jeroen van Zanten, of the Royal Netherlands Navy Submarine Service, said: "No".The families of the five crew who died when the Bugaled Breizh went down off the English coast in January 2004 maintain the vessel was pulled down by a submarine.
Cossec said he told Gloaguen to drop his life rafts and asked for his position, before warning his own crew the vessel was in trouble and to prepare for a rescue operation.
- Submarine spotted -
About a minute after the first call "I picked up the handset and it just crackled", remembered Cossec, saying the stricken vessel was no longer contactable.
The Eridan arrived at the scene around 45 minutes after the sinking, finding a large slick of oil on the surface, debris and empty life rafts.
The Eridan's captain and several crew members gave evidence through interpreters, saying that while searching for survivors they saw a submarine heading north with its tower above the water surface.
They differed in their accounts of how far away the submarine was, with several saying around 400 metres and one saying it was more than a mile (1.6 kilometres) away.
All five men on board the Bugaled Breizh, which operated out of Loctudy in the Finistere region of northwest France, perished in the tragedy.
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UK search and rescue teams recovered the bodies of Yves Gloaguen, 44, and Pascal Le Floch, 49, while that of Patrick Gloaguen, 35, was found in the wreck during a French salvage operation.
The two others -- chief engineer Georges Lemetayer, 60, and Eric Guillamet, 42 -- have never been found.
The families of the victims believe that the trawler sank after its nets were caught up in a submarine. NATO and Royal Navy exercises were taking place in the area at the time.
But Britain's Ministry of Defence and the Royal Navy deny any involvement, while a lengthy French judicial inquiry gave no definitive cause for the tragedy.
The hearing before high court judge Nigel Lickley is being held only into Yves Gloaguen and Pascal Le Floch's deaths because UK authorities were involved.
Inquests are held in England and Wales in the event of a sudden or unexplained death.
The hearings establish the causes and circumstances on the balance of probability. They do not determine criminal or civil liability but set out facts in the public interest.
In particularly sensitive or important cases, including matters involving national security, a judge can be appointed to oversee proceedings.
VA Dem gov nominee McAuliffe refuses to reject endorsement from group that supports defunding the police .
Virginia Democratic gubernatorial candidate Terry McAuliffe is facing criticism for not completely rejecting an endorsement from a group that advocates defunding the police. YOUNGKIN REACTS TO MCAULIFFE'S ADMISSION BIDEN SINKING IN VIRGINIA "Terry McAuliffe refuses to reject the endorsement he received from a radical ‘defund the police’ group, New Virginia Majority," McAuliffe’s Republican challenger, Glenn Youngkin, posted on Twitter along with a clip of McAuliffe from a recent television interview. "He said he's proud of it! Unbelievable.