Death Story

Byford Dolphin Accident: Horrific Details

Byford Dolphin Accident

It’s been 40 years and still, the Byford Dolphin Accident is considered among the most terrible circumstances which are well documented and remains among the worst in the history of commercial diving. In the Byford dolphin accident, the explosive decompression incident claimed the lives of five divers. 

Before learning about Byford Dolphin Accident, You need to learn about the Fred Olsen Energy subsidiary company Dolphin Drilling. This company drilled seasonally for various companies in British Norway and Denmark, particularly in the North Sea.

Interestingly this rig was the side of several serious incidents most notably an explosive decompression in 1983 that killed five divers as well as badly injured other dive tenders.

What is Byford Dolphin Company?

What is Byford Dolphin Company

What is Byford Dolphin Company

It was built as the Deep Sea Driller and it was designed by the highly successful Aker H-3 series, designed by Aker Group, and completed at the Aker Verdel Shipyard in 1974. 

As a drilling rig, it was equipped with advanced drilling equipment and originally met streak levels of certification under Norwegian law. It was able to maneuver with its engines, but for long-distance relocation, it had to be moved by specialized tugboats.

Specifications Details
Operating Deck Load 3,025 tonnes
Crew Quarters 102 persons
Operating Water Depth 460 metres (1,500 ft) maximum
Derrick 49 m (160 ft) Shaffer top compensator
Mooring System 12-point
Blow-out Preventer Hydril 476 mm (18.7 in), 10,000 kPa (1,500 psi)
Sub Sea Handling System Christmas Tree
Deck Cranes 2 × 40 tonnes

Byford Dolphin Accident Details

Byford Dolphin Accident Details

Byford Dolphin Accident Details

On Saturday 5:00 November 1983 precisely at 4:00 a.m. while drilling in the Frigg gas field and in Norway’s North Sea area. Ford diver in the diving chamber system on the deck of the rig and the deck was connected by a drunk which is considered to be a short passage to a diving bell. The drivers were:

  • Edwin Arthur Coward (35 years old British National)
  • Roy P. Lucas (British 38)
  • Bjorn Giaever Bergerson (Norwegian 29)
  • Truls Hellevik (Norwegian 34 years old)

These four drivers were assisted by two dive tenders Williams Crammond and Martin Saunders.

At the time, decompression chambers 1 and 2 were connected with a trunk to a diving bell, and the connection that was made by the trunk was kept sealed by a clamp operated by the two dive tenders. 

The normal procedure was to close the timing belt door which would have been open to the trunk.

Slightly increase the pressure in the diving bell to steal the bell door tightly.

They had to close the chamber one door which was also open to the trunk.

They had to slowly depressurize the trunk until it reached a pressure of one atmospheric pressure.

Last but not least they had to open the clamp to separate the diving belt from the chamber system. At the time of the accident, the two steps were completed when Crammond made a Mistake and opened the clamp that was keeping the trunk sealed before Hellevik had shut down the door to the chamber. 

This dismissic was deadly to them because by doing this the chamber was instantly decompressed from 9 atmospheres to the ambient external pressure of 1 atmospheric pressure. The air is rushed out of the system chamber with tremendous force and it jammed the interior drunk door and also pushed the bell away.

It struck the two tenders all full drivers were brutally killed and one of the tenders Crammond was also killed. It is horrific to imagine that within 0.1 seconds their bodies were dismembered due to the decompression.

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Investigation of the Byford Dolphin Accident

Investigation of the Byford Dolphin Accident

Investigation of the Byford Dolphin Accident

The investigative team concluded after month month-long investigation that the By Ford dolphin diving system accident resulted from human error when a dive tender improperly opened a clamp. However, there were also engineering flaws in the outer system that lacked feel-safe features.

There were also allegations of a cover-up with claims that dispensations for vital equipment by the Norwegian petroleum directorate caused the safety features to be withheld.


What happened in the Byford dolphin accident?

The buy for dolphin accident occurred due to human error when a dive tender opened a clamp and it resulted in a fatal accident because of decompression. 

What were the brutal deaths at the Byford Dolphin Accident?

The four divers and one dive tender died in the fatal accident. It is also said that their bodies will dismembered and it was hard to identify every diver in the compression chamber. 

What was the first diving accident ever recorded?

One of the most notorious and first diving accidents in the history of commercial diving is said to be the Byford Dolphin Accident.

What was the adoption of the divers stated?

The bodies of all the diverse were swirly mutilated the three diverse died on the spot and the autopsy results are described. “The findings were that a large amount of fat was present in the large arteries and veins in the cardiac chamber of the heart of each diver”. 

What was the Byford Dolphin?

It is the non-Vig virgin oil rig company that had the capability of drilling 6,100 m deep it had a small crew of 4 saturation divers and their work was to perform maintainers work on this submerged part of the rig.

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