The Byford Dolphin was a column-stabilized semisubmersible drilling rig owned and managed by Dolphin Drilling, a division of Fred Olsen Energy. During the summers, it drilled for several clients in the North Sea offshore Britain, Denmark and Norway.
They put down roots in Bermuda, specifically in Hamilton. Agnefest, Norway, where the Byford Dolphin was laid up in March 2023.
The Byford Dolphin: An Unrivaled Deep Sea Driller
It was the first of its kind in the highly successful Aker H-3 series of Deep Sea Drillers and it was built at the Aker Verdal shipyard in 1974.
Byford Dolphin measured a total of 108.2 m (355 ft) in length, 67.4 m (221 ft) in width and 36.6 m (112 ft) in depth (120 ft). It was capable of working in water as deep as 460 meters (1,500 feet) and could drill as deep as 6,100 meters (20,000 feet).
While the Byford Dolphin was initially certified to operate in Norwegian waters per the country’s stringent regulations, it has since been forbidden from operating there. While Byford Dolphin could use its engines for short maneuvers (to counteract drift and ocean currents), it would need specialized tugboats for longer hauls.
Fatal Accident on Byford Dolphin Rig: A Tragic Tale
The rig grounded on March 1, 1976, while making its way from a North Sea block to Bergen. Despite the successful evacuation, six crew members lost their lives as they jumped from their boats.
On November 5, 1983, at 4:00 a.m., four divers were working in a diving chamber system on the rig’s deck, which was connected through a trunk to a diving bell, drilling in the Frigg gas field in the Norwegian section of the North Sea.
Among the divers were Truls Hellevik (Sweden), Bjrn Giaever Bergersen (Norway), Edwin Arthur Coward (Britain), and Roy P. Lucas (Britain) (Norwegian, 34). Two dive tenders, William Crammond and Martin Saunders, helped them out.
The b0dies of the four scuba divers were examined by doctors. The most striking observation was the abundance of fat in the b0dy’s major bl00d vessels, veins, and heart chambers, as well as intravascular fat in several organs, most notably the liver.
This fat probably wasn’t embolic, but rather a bl00d-borne precipitate. Although initial North Sea divers and family members of the victims pushed for more inquiry, a report was finally obtained in February 2008 indicating that malfunctioning equipment was the underlying cause.
Roy Lucas’s daughter, Clare, went so far as to accuse the Norwegian government of murd*r, saying, “I would go as far as to say that the Norwegian Government murd*red my father.” Almost 26 years after the occurrence, the Norwegian government paid damages to the divers’ families.
An industrial accident on the rig on April 17, 2002, claimed the life of a 44-year-old Norwegian worker. Byford Dolphin lost an exploratory contract with Statoil after the disaster because of the oil company’s worries about the rig’s safety protocols. The corporation lost a significant amount of money as a result of the occurrence.
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