Remembering Piper Alpha - 30 years on

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CharlieOneSix
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Remembering Piper Alpha - 30 years on

#1 Post by CharlieOneSix » Fri Jul 06, 2018 7:48 am

30 years ago tonight - 6th July 1988 - my co-pilot and I were based with a Bell 214ST helicopter on the Forties Bravo oil platform, 110 miles off Aberdeen. We were doing shuttling work – at 0600 and 1800 flying between rigs/platforms taking workers to/from their 12 hour shifts.

We were just about to turn in for the night when we were called to the Offshore Installation Manager’s office. He said there was a platform on fire and asked if we would go and see if we could help. That was the night of the Piper Alpha disaster when 167 men lost their lives - 61 survived. It was a long night of sounds, sights and smells that I shall never forget.
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Re: Remembering Piper Alpha - 30 years on

#2 Post by Boac » Fri Jul 06, 2018 7:55 am

In deed, Charlie - a fellow DanAir co-pilot, Martyn Ashton, lost his son (on a 'work experience' visit) there. Martyn now, too, departed.

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Re: Remembering Piper Alpha - 30 years on

#3 Post by Cacophonix » Fri Jul 06, 2018 12:57 pm

CharlieOneSix wrote:
Fri Jul 06, 2018 7:48 am
30 years ago tonight - 6th July 1988 - my co-pilot and I were based with a Bell 214ST helicopter on the Forties Bravo oil platform, 110 miles off Aberdeen. We were doing shuttling work – at 0600 and 1800 flying between rigs/platforms taking workers to/from their 12 hour shifts.

We were just about to turn in for the night when we were called to the Offshore Installation Manager’s office. He said there was a platform on fire and asked if we would go and see if we could help. That was the night of the Piper Alpha disaster when 167 men lost their lives - 61 survived. It was a long night of sounds, sights and smells that I shall never forget.
The pilots and crews in the air as well those on the ships did their bit and were (and still are) brave people.

Kudos to you and all those that went out in the face of such a disaster to save the folk on the rig.

God rest the dead!

Thank you for reminding us C16.

Caco

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Re: Remembering Piper Alpha - 30 years on

#4 Post by CharlieOneSix » Fri Jul 06, 2018 5:36 pm

Caco - we were unable to save anyone directly as we had neither winch nor crewman as we were only equipped for the commercial task in the Forties Field. We had hoped to perhaps land on the Piper Alpha's helideck but it had already disappeared in one of the explosions by the time we got there. All we were able to do was take three stretcher cases with the worst burns, plus 4 walking wounded with burns and a couple of medics, from the Tharos fire fighting vessel straight to Aberdeen Royal Infirmary.

I will never understand why the radio operator on the Tharos did not receive formal recognition. His cool professionalism during those initial hours was remarkable and contributed greatly to the rescue effort.

Re the son of Boac's colleague: Mark David Ashton, age 19, trainee technician.
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Re: Remembering Piper Alpha - 30 years on

#5 Post by Cacophonix » Fri Jul 06, 2018 9:14 pm

CharlieOneSix wrote:
Fri Jul 06, 2018 5:36 pm
Caco - we were unable to save anyone directly as we had neither winch nor crewman as we were only equipped for the commercial task in the Forties Field. We had hoped to perhaps land on the Piper Alpha's helideck but it had already disappeared in one of the explosions by the time we got there. All we were able to do was take three stretcher cases with the worst burns, plus 4 walking wounded with burns and a couple of medics, from the Tharos fire fighting vessel straight to Aberdeen Royal Infirmary.

I will never understand why the radio operator on the Tharos did not receive formal recognition. His cool professionalism during those initial hours was remarkable and contributed greatly to the rescue effort.

Re the son of Boac's colleague: Mark David Ashton, age 19, trainee technician.

You chap's can take great credit for responding and giving succour to the injured and almost certainly saving lives. There can be no greater thing a person or a group of people can do.

Caco

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Re: Remembering Piper Alpha - 30 years on

#6 Post by FD2 » Sat Jul 07, 2018 9:35 pm

I had moved down south before the Piper tragedy. It was an old platform built to an old design and with a 'get the oil out quick ' ethos. Much of the early development was done on the same lines as the Gulf of Mexico and there was a bit of a relaxed attitude to safety....167 men gone. Luckily it improved later and offshore accidents decreased but it was always to be a risky occupation. Watching the news reports was almost unbelievable - a large platform I had landed on so often just disappearing in the huge explosions of gas - I found it hard to believe that anyone at all had survived. Thanks for reminding us C16 - it hardly seems like 30 years does it? I do remember shots of a 214 landing survivors in Aberdeen but can't remember if it was Dyce or ARI.
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Re: Remembering Piper Alpha - 30 years on

#7 Post by CharlieOneSix » Sat Jul 07, 2018 10:58 pm

FD2 - we went straight to ARI. I think, but not sure after all this time, we were the first helicopter to arrive there at about 0330. I've just watched a repeat of the 25th anniversary documentary on BBC2 Scotland with survivors recalling their escapes with great emotion.
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Re: Remembering Piper Alpha - 30 years on

#8 Post by fareastdriver » Fri Nov 09, 2018 7:40 pm

I went out there with a S76 next morning. We had the relief IOM on board and we had to fly very close around the structure to photograph and assess the damage.

A couple of days later I took the Time Magazine people out and that is when the stark photograph of the Piper Alfa was taken.

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Re: Remembering Piper Alpha - 30 years on

#9 Post by Smeagol » Thu Nov 22, 2018 10:53 pm

I remember the disaster well and also the resulting Cullen Report which resulted in significant changes to the design of north sea installations and, probably more importantly, to a change in the culture in their operation. Spent several years in the 1990's involved in the design and implementation of modifications to southern north sea platforms as a result of the recommendations of the Cullen Report.
The whole report is now available via the link below. Well worth reading despite its' size and technical content. Should be compulsory reading for all engineers involved in any process industry.

https://bit.ly/2x1Jxm7
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Re: Remembering Piper Alpha - 30 years on

#10 Post by Woody » Tue Jul 06, 2021 1:16 pm

10pm tonight 💕 raise a Glass 🥃

Ask someone in 2021 to name the world's worst offshore disaster and they will probably say Deepwater Horizon. But something much more devastating happened 33 years ago today that Changed Both Aberdeen in Scotland 🏴󠁧󠁢󠁳󠁣󠁴󠁿 and the offshore Industry.

This simple wreck buoy sitting a couple of hundred meters off the corner of Piper Bravo is all that remains of Piper Alpha. It floats silently as a memorial to the 167 men who died that night. Many of whose bodies still lie entombed in the tangled wreckage beneath the North Sea.

Most major disasters don't result from a single 'big' thing, they escalate along a chain of small ones - any of which has the possibility to change, or stop the outcome altogether. But that non-critical pump trip just before 10PM on July 6th 1988 set in motion a truly awful set of events where every single thing conspired to create a situation which can only be described as Hell on Earth. When the Tartan riser ruptured some 30 mins later, there was no way back. The fire was consuming over half a tonne of natural gas per second - equivalent to the entire domestic consumption of the UK - and melting the 20,000 tonne platform from the inside out.

Although no criminal charges were ever brought; in the aftermath of the disaster the UK offshore industry accepted every one of the 106 recommendations put forward by the Cullen Inquiry. Recommendations that completely reshaped the industry, and changed it into a model widely copied around the world. If these lessons had been learned/remembered in the US as well, just perhaps Deepwater Horizon may have had a different outcome...

So for those of you who work in the oil & gas industry, or have friends/relatives who do. Raise a glass tonight at 10PM to recognize the men who sacrificed their ability to get on that chopper home, to ensure that others can today.
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Re: Remembering Piper Alpha - 30 years on

#11 Post by Undried Plum » Tue Jul 06, 2021 7:55 pm

This simple wreck buoy sitting a couple of hundred meters off the corner of Piper Bravo is all that remains of Piper Alpha. It floats silently as a memorial to the 167 men who died that night.
It's not at all silent.

It has a large bell with a clanger on a spring inside it. With every passing wave it clang a terribly mournful note. G, I think.

I shall indeed be raising a glass of Mac30 tonight at 10:00pm to all 167. And again to a friend of mine, 'Bud' Weiser. He was sent over to the platform from Tharos to do an evening alignment check on the Artemis unit which was being used by Lowland Cavalier's DP system. He never came back.

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Re: Remembering Piper Alpha - 30 years on

#12 Post by Undried Plum » Tue Jul 06, 2021 9:03 pm


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Re: Remembering Piper Alpha - 30 years on

#13 Post by CharlieOneSix » Tue Jul 06, 2021 10:08 pm

Likewise I raised a glass tonight in honour of the 167. Memories of that night are still so very vivid.
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Re: Remembering Piper Alpha - 30 years on

#14 Post by FD2 » Tue Jul 06, 2021 10:35 pm

RIP men, RIP. I'll have a drop or two in your memory tonight.
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Re: Remembering Piper Alpha - 30 years on

#15 Post by Undried Plum » Tue Jul 06, 2021 10:57 pm


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Re: Remembering Piper Alpha - 30 years on

#16 Post by TheGreenGoblin » Wed Jul 07, 2021 2:01 pm

PiperAlpha.JPG

The Piper Alpha Disaster Bronze Memorial in Hazlehead Park in Aberdeen, Scotland, commemorates the 167 victims of the 6 July 1988 explosion on the Piper Alpha production platform, 12 miles offshore in the North Sea. The memorial, dedicated on the tragedy’s anniversary in 1991, bears the names of platform workers who died and two crewmen of the Sandhaven vessel who lost their lives attempting to rescue workers from Piper Alpha.
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Re: Remembering Piper Alpha - 30 years on

#17 Post by CharlieOneSix » Wed Jul 07, 2021 2:14 pm

A slight error in TGG's quote - the distance should read 112 miles not 12 miles.
.
KTX-060721-01-003.jpg
About 70 people gathered in Hazelhead Park yesterday to mark the 33rd anniversary of the Piper Alpha disaster.
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Re: Remembering Piper Alpha - 30 years on

#18 Post by TheGreenGoblin » Wed Jul 07, 2021 3:16 pm

CharlieOneSix wrote:
Wed Jul 07, 2021 2:14 pm
A slight error in TGG's quote - the distance should read 112 miles not 12 miles.
.
KTX-060721-01-003.jpg
About 70 people gathered in Hazelhead Park yesterday to mark the 33rd anniversary of the Piper Alpha disaster.
Thanks for correcting the quote C16.
Depressed, feeling a slump, then remember Lift = Coefficient of Lift x 1/2 x ρ x V-squared X S!

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Re: Remembering Piper Alpha - 30 years on

#19 Post by Undried Plum » Wed Jul 07, 2021 5:32 pm

It's not about the exact ADN Radial/DME. Nor the METAR.

It was just Hell on Earth, for so many. Some of whom are still extant, in spirit, betwixt the to/from the flag on the 057 and 054 Radials.

Not me.



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