TRIBUTES have been paid to the former skipper of the Hull supertrawler Gaul, who has died at the age of 83.
Ernest Suddaby skippered the vessel on her three trips prior to her sinking when she was owned by the Ranger company. He was on holiday when she sank off Norway on February 8, 1974, with the loss of 36 lives.
Mr Suddaby - always referred to as “Ernie Sud” - never accepted the findings of a second public inquiry in 2004. Former skipper Ken Knox said: “Like him, most of us skippers and fishermen knew what caused the tragedy. There were a lot of rumours and crazy suggestions, but it was just freak weather and the state of the sea.”
He added: “Ernie always had a bit of a bugbear about the Icelandics, the way we lost our fishing grounds. It was one of his pet hates. Ernie said what he wanted to say - he didn’t pull any punches. He was that experienced, that whatever he said probably had a lot of truth in it.”
Trevor Doyle, another former skipper and Hessle Roader, recalled how when the deep water fishing ended, they both went to the Falklands. He said he “was one of those men who were respected because he was a decent guy. He looked after his men.”
Mr Suddaby wrote about his 40-year career in Fishing Explorer – The Final Visit to the Gaul. Historian Robb Robinson added: “He was one of the last of the breed of Hessle Road skippers who came to prominence in the decades after the War, arguably among the finest seafarers in the 20th century. They started at the bottom and made a living in extreme conditions. We will never know their like again.”