Russia plan in lost Gaul probe

Harwich and Manningtree Standard: Hull-based trawler, the Gaul, which sank in 1974 with the loss of 36 men. Hull-based trawler, the Gaul, which sank in 1974 with the loss of 36 men.

A British team of police officers and an anthropologist are planning to travel to Russia as part of the ongoing investigation into the loss of the Gaul trawler, which sank 40 years ago with the loss of all 36 men on board.

Humberside Police said three officers and a scientist are hoping to go to Russia following the discovery of 10 bodies in a cave two years ago, once permission has been secured from the Russian authorities.

The force said no date had been fixed for the visit which will look at the options or identifying the remains.

A force spokesman said: "Humberside Police are working in partnership with the Foreign and Commonwealth Office regarding the possibility of a team visiting Russia for an assessment visit in relation to human remains discovered there some time ago.

"We are looking to send three police officers and a scientist on the visit and whilst no date has yet been set it is hoped it will be at the earliest opportunity."

The Hull-based trawler sank in 1974 in the Barents Sea, north of Norway.

The loss of the vessel was surrounded by controversy with many of the relatives of the dead convinced for years that the tragedy had something to do with Cold War Soviet military activity.

The wreck was discovered in 1997 and a fresh inquiry in 2004 said there was no evidence of any Soviet involvement. The inquiry found that the Gaul sank in heavy seas after water poured into open hatches and chutes.

A number of bodies were found buried on the remote Rybachy peninsula, in Russia, two years ago.

Police have said the the remains appeared to have been found in 1974 or 1975 by local people and buried under rocks.

The force added: " Jurisdiction for our visit quite rightly lies with the Russian authorities and, as such, we continue to work closely with the FCO, and appreciate the level of assistance they are providing.

"FCO officials are communicating with the Russian authorities to arrange consent in order to facilitate this assessment visit.

"We are committed to keeping the families up to date at all times and have family liaison officers deployed who provide them with relevant news at regular intervals as appropriate.

"The next stage in this inquiry will very much be determined by the findings of the assessment visit."

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