Workers Rescued After Oil Rig Capsizes In Heavy Seas
Dec. 16, 1988
HALIFAX, Nova Scotia (AP) _ Twenty-seven workers from a capsized oil rig spent a day in high seas huddled inside a survival capsule the size of a large van before they were rescued Friday by Canada's coast guard.
''All 27 are reported to be in good medical shape, not requiring any medical attention,'' said Dick Pepper, spokesman for the coast guard.
Pepper said the 25 men and two women workers from the Rowan Gorilla I oil rig were taken from the enclosed capsule to the tugboat Smit London in a motorized rubber raft after the stormy seas calmed enough to permit a rescue.
The winds and waves up to 40 feet high prevented an earlier rescue from the capsule, which can remain afloat for days and hold as many as 50 people.
The offshore rig overturned Thursday about 1,200 miles east of New York City. The Rescue Coordination Center at Halifax, more than 600 miles to the northwest, organized the rescue.
Maj. Glen Urquhart said 25 Canadians, one American and a Dutch crew member were released.
The crew members entered the survival pod about noon Thursday, before the rig overturned. The rig, owned by the Rowan Co. Inc. of Houston, was last sighted Thursday afternoon and it was not clear if it sank in the storm.
Tim Brownlow, a crew member who was not on the rig, said the life pod has enough food and water for days and can stay afloat in the roughest weather.
''Have you ever put a cork in a bathtub? That's what it's like,'' he said. ''They're a self-righting capsule. They can flip, flip, flip and it will keep righting itself.''
The rig began listing after one of its ballast tanks cracked and began taking in water, said Danny McNease, vice president of operations for the Rowan Co. He said the rig, 300 feet wide and 300 feet long, was built to withstand 100-foot waves and 80 mph winds.
The rig, which is not under lease to an oil company, left Halifax last week for the 30-day trip across the Atlantic to the North Sea. It can carry 86 crew members. It is a jack-up rig, meaning its platform sits atop huge legs that are embedded in the sea floor during drilling.
Anxious relatives waiting in Halifax for word about the crew.
Jane Grijm, whose 44-year-old husband Richard was the rig's cook, said she planned to ask him to quit such work, as she has for four years.
''But Richard doesn't get too scared, and I am praying and having this good stiff drink too,'' she told the Toronto Star.