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SUMMARIES OF MAJOR  ACCIDENT REPORTS
(In event order)

THE KULLUK INCIDENT
December 2012
THE COSTA CONCORDIA
January 2012
THE TRINITY II
September 2011
THE DEEPWATER HORIZON
April 2010
THE BOURBON DOLPHIN
April 2007
THE STEVNS POWER
October 2003
THE OCEAN RANGER
February 1982
THE OCEAN EXPRESS
April 1976

PICTURE OF THE DAY
PIC OF THE DAY ARCHIVES
2007 - 77 Photographs
2008 - 101 Photographs
2009 - 124 Photographs
2010 - 118 Photographs
2011 - 100 Photographs
2012 - 97 Photographs

 


 

         

Go to 'Publications' to buy any of these books.

DON'T FORGET YOU CAN PURCHASE "THE HISTORY OF THE SUPPLY SHIP", "SUPPLY SHIP OPERATIONS" and "RIGMOVES" HERE FOR 52.50 TOGETHER

A GOOD PROSPECT OF RECOVERY

If anyone is uncertain about what Emergency Response and Rescue Vessels are supposed to achieve on the UK Continental Shelf, there follows an article written for a UK marine magazine in 1998. It was called - "A GOOD PROSPECT"

In the 1950s "a good prospect" might have been a mother's opinion of her daughter's boyfriend, but in the 1990s the phrase has almost fallen into disuse except to those whose job it is to ensure conformance to the PFEER regulations.

The "good prospect" is that of being recovered from the sea having fallen into it, been forced to escape into it from an offshore installation or having been dunked into it by a falling helicopter. The PFEER - Prevention of Fire and Explosion and Emergency Response – Regulations came into force on 20th June 1995. They are bolted on to the Safety Case Regulations to emphasise those aspects which may not have already been completely clear or to ensure that certain "arrangements with suitable persons" are put in place to guarantee the previously mentioned "good prospect."

The usual way of making an arrangement with suitable persons is to provide a Standby Vessel, and the regulations in addition require performance standards for standby vessels which will ensure their ability to recover people from the sea under predetermined conditions.

The standard which most affects those working in the North Sea is the ability of the Standby Vessel to rescue people from the sea if the helicopter crashes during take-off or landing. Roughly speaking a North Sea helicopter is capable of landing or taking off from an oil rig in wind speeds of up to 55 knots. It is likely that such windspeeds would result in seas which would be too rough, in the opinion of the standby vessel master, for him to launch his fast rescue craft. When the helicopter crashed at Cormorant Alpha in 1992 the windspeed was about 55 knots, and neither of the standby vessel masters on the scene was prepared to hazard his crew by launching his fast rescue craft, despite the extreme urgency of the situation.

The PFEER regulations have been in force for over two years but the duty-holders - those responsible for the offshore installation safety cases - were given some grace to get their act in order and to develop their performance standards, including those for Standby vessels.

Both UKOOA – the UK Offshore Oil Operator's Association and IADC the International Association of Drilling Contractors developed performance standards for the length of time they would expect personnel to be in the water before being rescued.

Also in 1995 the HSE published OTO Report 95 038, The Review of Probable Survival Times for Immersion in the North Sea. This report spelt out in some detail something that was already known to medical experts associated with the marine industry, that except in flat calm conditions there is much more chance of people in the water dying of drowning rather than hypothermia. This report indicated that in the North Sea in winter there was a limited chance of anyone dressed in a standard helicopter survival suit lasting for more than 30 minutes in the sea.

The likely results of entry into the sea were detailed by Surgeon Rear Admiral Frank Golden (retired) at the Offshore Evacuation Escape and Rescue Conference held in Aberdeen in April. Subsequent to entry into the water a body will turn face into the wind, because the feet act as a sea anchor. This results in seas lapping over the face, causing at least some intake of water. Any intake can serious lessen the chances of survival.

This information and a new caution on the part of the Standby Vessel masters caused some helicopters not to fly from Aberdeen on windy days during last winter. The terminals were full of restless oil rig workers dressed in survival suits waiting for the weather to calm down so that they could be offered a good prospect of recovery should their helicopters fall into the sea.

Meanwhile the Operators have been extending the operating envelope of the Standby Vessels by fitting the Dacon scoop. This is a semi-rigid net held out from the side of the standby vessel, scooping the survivor up without hazarding the crew. Of course in line with the performance standards requirements such systems must be tested, this one by throwing multiple sets of dummies into the sea to simulate a helicopter crash and then have the standby vessel pick them up. Results have, it is alleged, been extremely varied and have depended as one might expect, on the expertise of the standby vessel master and the manoeuvrability of his ship. However despite any possible drawbacks many ships are now equipped with this device.

Another approach which might shorten the time to pick-up despite the fact that many standby vessels now look after more than one installation, is the concept of the mother and daughter craft. The daughter craft is a substantial vessel built along the lines of a standard FRC but much larger, with a fully enclosed cabin with full facilities. The daughter craft can stand by installations at some distance from the mother craft, thereby providing two for only a little more than the price of one. There are some mariners who have doubts as to the suitability of this alliance. The daughter craft weights several tonnes making it difficult to launch and recover even under ideal conditions, and so possibly increasing the risks to the ships crew.

There is one more approach which is taken by the Danish standby vessel company Esvagt, and which was proposed by Ovin Carlsson managing director of that company at the same conference – this is to exercise no matter what the weather. This approach has resulted in Esvagt carrying out detail tests to ensure that the fast rescue craft davit is placed in the optimum position on the ship, that the FRC is specially designed and does not weigh more then 1200 kilos and is provided with a special hook which can be easily operated by one man with one hand. Their outboard engines are diesels, and can be restarted even after being submerged in water. This approach has resulted in Esvagt rescuing 68 people over the last 16 years.

As unpalatable as it may sound, the technique of practice, and therefore familiarity may be the only one which can sensibly be used in the North Sea. The other choice may be to accept that having small ships out there in any weather is in itself an unacceptable level of risk, and that an alternative means of marine rescue must be found. After all, as some-one remarked, a Standby boat doesn't follow the QE2 everywhere it goes.

Victor Gibson

 TO RETURN TO FEATURES INDEX CLICK HERE

 
 
FEATURES

THE DEEPWATER HORIZON
Deepwater Horizon -The President's Report
Deepwater Horizon - The Progess of the Event

OTHER ACCIDENTS
The KULLUK Grounding
The Costa Concordia Report
The Costa Concordia Grounding
The Elgin Gas Leak
The Loss of the Normand Rough
The Bourbon Dolphin Accident
The Loss of the Stevns Power
Another Marine Disaster
Something About the P36
The Cormorant Alpha Accident
The Ocean Ranger Disaster
The Loss of the Ocean Express

OPERATIONS
The Life of the Oil Mariner
Offshore Technology and the Kursk
The Sovereign Explorer and the Black Marlin

SAFETY
Safety Case and SEMS
Practical Safety Case Development
Preventing Fires and Explosions Offshore
The ALARP Demonstration
PFEER, DCR and Verification
PFEER and the Dacon Scoop
Human Error and Heavy Weather Damage
Lifeboats & Offshore Installations
More about PFEER
The Offshore Safety Regime - Fit for the Next Decade
The Safety Case and its Future
Jigsaw
Collision Risk Management
Shuttle Tanker Collisions
A Good Prospect of Recovery

TECHNICAL
The History of the UT 704
The Peterhead Connection
Goodbye Kiss
Uses for New Ships
Supporting Deepwater Drilling
Jack-up Moving - An Overview
Seismic Surveying
Breaking the Ice
Tank Cleaning and the Environment
More about Mud Tank Cleaning
Datatrac
Tank Cleaning in 2004
Glossary of Terms

CREATIVE WRITING
An Unusual Investigation
Gaia and Oil Pollution
The True Price of Oil
Icebergs and Anchor-Handlers
Atlantic SOS
The Greatest Influence
How It Used to Be
Homemade Pizza
Goodbye Far Turbot
The Ship Manager
Running Aground
A Cook's Tale
Navigating the Channel
The Captain's Letter

GENERAL INTEREST
The Sealaunch Project
Ghost Ships of Hartlepool
Beam Him Up Scotty
Q790
The Bilbao OSV Conference