11 Historical Offshore Incidents and Why They Happened

December 2, 2022

Working offshore can be a dangerous job, and sometimes things go wrong. In this blog post, we’ll take a look at 11 historical offshore incidents and what caused them. From explosions to collisions, these accidents have claimed the lives of hundreds of workers over the years. So if you’re heading out to sea, be sure to read up on these disasters so that you know what to watch for. This list is in no particular order.

The Alexander L. Kielland Disaster – 123 Fatalities

On March 27, 1980, 212 offshore workers were aboard the floating oil rig named Alexander L. Kielland. At the time, the platform was owned by the Stavanger Drilling Company but was being used by Phillips Petroleum. Out of the 212 offshore workers aboard, 123 were killed.

During the evening on March 27th, the wind outside the rig had increased to about 45 miles per hour and was experiencing 40-foot waves. At the time, this floating rig was being held down by six anchor cables. The workers aboard the rig heard a loud sound which they later realized was five of the six anchor cables breaking, leaving the floating rig anchored by only the sixth cable. Unfortunately, due to the poor command structure aboard this floating rig, most of the workers did not attempt to evacuate. Approximately 20 minutes later, the last remaining anchor cable broke and the platform capsized. At the time of the storm, the platform had seven 50-person lifeboats and twenty 20-person rafts. Due to the platform capsizing, only one lifeboat and two rafts were able to be released by from the lowering cables.

After the investigation of this catastrophe concluded, it was determined that incident occurred due to a fatigue crack caused by a 6mm wide bad welding job. The catastrophe led to implementing new requirements for lifeboat hooks and new command structures to facilitate faster evacuation of a sinking vessel.

The Ocean Ranger Disaster – 84 Fatalities

February 14-15, 1982 – The Ocean Ranger was a mobile offshore drilling rig that sank to the bottom of the ocean off the coast of Canada. At the time of this disaster the Ocean Ranger was drilling an exploratory well for Mobil Oil of Canada. During the evening on February 14th, Ocean Ranger was struck by a rogue wave. Over radio frequencies, platform workers were saying that a porthole window on the rig was broken and leaked an immense amount of water into the ballast control room. At that time, the platform was getting hit by 65-foot waves. Unfortunately, the rig’s porthole window was only at 28 feet. Around midnight, the rig reported they were listing 10-15 degrees.

On February 15th, around 1 AM, as the platform was leaning 10 degrees to the left, the situation came to the attention of local authorities and Mobil helicopters. Additionally, all nearby vessels were asked to assist the platform. Soon thereafter, the Ocean Ranger transmitted a final message that they were abandoning the vessel.

The Deepwater Horizon Disaster – 11 Fatalities

The Deepwater Horizon is one of the worst and most publicized offshore disasters since the 1980s. At the time, Transocean owned the rig which was performing drilling operations for BP. As we all know, the oil rig exploded and caught fire on April 20, 2010 off the coast of Louisiana. However, before the oil rig exploded there were numerous red flags indicating that it could (and would) happen in the near future.

In 2009, engineers for BP were concerned that the materials BP wanted to use for drilling would not withstand the pressure. The mentality with the rig workers at that time were that they would be fired for raising safety concerns to the higherups, even though many of them had grave concerns that the equipment was unreliable and required in-depth maintenance. In March 2010, an accident that damaged the blowout preventer went unreported. It was later determined that the blowout preventer had not been inspected for 5 years prior to the explosion.

On the night of April 20th, hours before the well exploded, engineers for BP saw numerous indications and warning signs that the well was going to explode. Around 9:56 PM that night, a methane gas bubble made its way up the drill column, expanding larger and larger as it traveled upwards. The rig fire burned for over 24 hours before the Deepwater Horizon sank to the bottom of the Gulf of Mexico. Out of the 126 people aboard, 11 were killed and 17 were transported to trauma centers across various parts of Louisiana.

The Piper Alpha – 167 Fatalities

From the time it came on-line in 1976 until it exploded on July 6, 1988, the Piper Alpha produced more than 300,000 barrels of crude per day which accounted for approximately 10% of the United Kingdom’s total crude production at that time. On July 6, 1988, while performing maintenance on a pump, a safety valve was removed from a gas pipe and was temporarily sealed. The pump was required to remain off until the maintenance was completed. Unfortunately, due to oversight, the next maintenance crew re-engaged the pump triggering a gas leak. Thereafter, this gas leak caused a string of enormous explosions aboard the offshore platform killing 167 men. Out of the entire crew of 226 people, 61 survived making this disaster one of the deadliest offshore rig catastrophes in history.

Seacrest Drillship Disaster – 91 Fatalities

On 3 November 1989, the Seacrest drillship capsized while operating in Unocal’s Platong gas field in the Gulf of Thailand during the passage of Typhoon Gay. At that time, the Seacrest had 97 crewmembers. Six survived and 91 lost their lives. The cause of the capsize was attributed to the the Seacrest’s unseaworthiness as well as the severe weather conditions it encountered during the typhoon. Contrary to industry custom and practice, Unocal did not have a standby vessel tending to the Seacrest at the time she capsized, so the crewmen in the water were carried away by the typhoon and the loss of the ship went unnoticed until a helicopter found it floating upside down approximately four miles from its last known location on November 4th.

Glomar Java Sea Drillship – 81 Fatalities

On October 25, 1983, the Glomar Java Sea drillship, owned by Global Marine, was hit by Typhoon Lex, capsized and sank in the South China Sea off the coast of Hainan, China. Prior to the drillship’s capsizing, crew members reported that the drillship was experiencing severe gusts of wind in excess of 86 miles per hour.

Out of the 81 crew members aboard, search and rescue teams were only able to recover the bodies of 36 crew members and the remaining 45 crew members were presumed dead.

Bohai 2 Oil Rig Disaster – 72 Fatalities

In November 1979, the Bohai 2 jack-up rig capsized in the Gulf of Bohai killing 72 out of the 76 crew members aboard. While in tow through a dangerous storm a ventilator pump broke on the platform and created a hole allowing the platform to flood. The extensive flooding and severe weather conditions caused the jack-up to capsize. A subsequent investigation determined that the disaster could have been avoided but crew members had not received adequate training in evacuation procedures or the use of life-saving equipment.

Enchova Central Platform – 42 Fatalities

In August 1984, the Enchova Central Platform, operated by Petrobras, suffered a blowout and exploded in the Campos Basin near Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. 42 crew members were killed during the evacuation of the platform. Of these 42 fatalities, 36 crew members died due to the malfunction of a lowering mechanism of a lifeboat which rendered it vertically suspended until it eventually fell into the ocean. Additionally, six crew members lost their lives when they jumped from the burning platform into the sea. In April 1988, merely four years later, the Encova Platform suffered another blowout. Fortunately, all personnel during that instance were safely evacuated.

Mumbai High North – 22 Fatalities

July 2005 – High swells caused a support vessel to collide into the Mumbai High North offshore platform, owned by the Indian government. The collision ruptured multiple gas risers on the platform allowing gas to escape. Unfortunately, this gas exploded and set the entire platform ablaze. The platform was evacuated and destroyed within two hours. 22 out of the 384 workers aboard the Mumbai High North lost their lives because of this incident.

Usumacinta Jack-up – 22 Fatalities

On October 23, 2007, 22 crew members’ lives were lost in the Usumacinta Jack-Up rig catastrophe. Prior to this disaster, Pemex had contracted the Usumacinta Jack-up rig to be positioned alongside the Kab-101 platform in order to complete the drilling of the Kab-103 well in the Bay of Campeche, located in the Gulf of Mexico. While operating in those positions, an unprecedented storm developed in the area which produced winds in excess of 80 mph and 26-foot swells.

When the storm came, the Usumacinta’s anchor points were not fully secured. Thus, with the storm’s excess winds and rising swells the rig was allowed to oscillate with the currents and eventually collided into the production valve tree on the Kab-101 platform. This resulted in a dramatic oil and gas leak and necessitated the crew to close the safety valves on two of the platform’s production wells. Unfortunately, crew members could seal these valves 100% and they continued leaking. Shortly thereafter, oil and gas ignited and the 73 crew members attempted to evacuate via-two lifeboats. Of the two lifeboats, one of them filled with water and capsized, and the other was overturned by a large wave. This disaster claimed the lives of 21 crew members during evacuation procedure and another crew member went missing during the search and rescue mission and was pronounced dead. 

C.P. Baker Drilling Barge – 22 Fatalities

In June 1964, an explosion and fire aboard the C.P. Baker drilling barge killed 22 crewmembers. While operating in the Gulf of Mexico, the C.P. Baker’s 260-foot long hulls experienced a blowout, letting water rush through the open doors onto the main deck of the vessel. Shortly thereafter, an explosion occurred and gradually engulfed the vessel in flames. 30 minutes later, the vessel sank to the bottom of the Gulf of Mexico. Rescue teams recovered eight crew members’ bodies, but 13 crew members were never recovered and were presumed dead.

Contact Top-Rated Offshore Injury Attorneys

As one can tell, offshore workers are susceptible to an exponentially long list of risks associated with their work. If you or a loved one have been injured in an offshore-related accident, do not hesitate to contact an experienced offshore drilling rig accident lawyer at Morrow & Sheppard, LLP today to discuss your legal rights.

  1. Home
  2. |
  3. Offshore Injury
  4. |
  5. 11 Historical Offshore Incidents and...

We Get Results

0
Maritime Lawsuit
0
Traumatic Brain Injury – Oilfield Injury
0
Oil & Gas Burn Injury

What Our Clients Are Saying

Chris West is an excellent addition to the Morrow & Sheppard team. His skill set, dedication, and overall reliability he brings to the firm and clients are uncanny. You will not be disappointed.
Candace M.
Candace M.
00:33 07 Sep 22
I highly recommend the Morrow & Sheppard to anyone. They are an incredible group that did an outstanding job to make sure I got the highest settlement for my case. Attorney Daniel and his staff are all outstanding professionals with some serious case law knowledge and skill. His group went the... extra mile for me and because of that, my life has forever changed. Thank you Attorney Daniel and everyone that’s a part of his firm that worked so hard. I really appreciate you!read more
Melis R.
Melis R.
20:36 25 Aug 22
I am Extremely Happy with Morrow & Sheppard Lawfirm. I worked closely with Daniel Sheppard and Chris on my case. They were diligent in handling my law case matter to resolution. Daniel would keep me up to date with the status of my case and Chris would also ensure all my paper work was submitted... in a timely manner. I am Very Happy with the Outcome! Thank you Daniel and Chris. I highly recommend their services and would not hesitate to use them again.read more
D P.
D P.
15:43 07 Jul 22
Very strong and courageous law firm I recommend to anyone who has suffered a injury from companies who need to be held responsible for lack of safety and security, my family is set for life and with these lawyers never backing down and fighting for truth behind every case and seeking the best... future for our family has given our family a second chance at being able to make it in life and holding companies accountable lifting burdens off our lives, very proud and beyond blessed to have had them fight the fight and have a tremendous outcome for our future. Along with a great and kind staff we HIGHLY recommend this law firm.read more
Nikki L.
Nikki L.
23:11 13 May 22
I was a client for 2.5 years after a car accident in 2019 and represented by Patrick McGinnis. He was knowledgable, compassionate, and level headed.His assisting paralegal, Ramona Anaya, was reliable, knowledgable, and kind in all our interactions.They went above and beyond to help me navigate... everything that unfolded after my car accident. They were able to secure a favorable settlement before trial.I’m very happy to have had Morrow&Sheppard Firm represent me.read more
Marceline A.
Marceline A.
11:54 20 Mar 22
Professional and knowledgeable with years of experience.
angel martinez J.
angel martinez J.
20:04 08 Mar 22
I had a accident and I chose morrow&sheppard they was great from the start to the finish Chris was real informative and helpful was the whole process and got me a fair settlement they really care about there Clients if you in a car accident call them
Richard L.
Richard L.
18:15 03 Mar 22
After a car accident last year I went to Morrow & Sheppard for assistance. Jose and Chris were exceptionally accommodating and handled my case with professionalism. They're primary concern was my well being and they went above and beyond to ensure I would receive the best settlement possible. A... very efficient and dedicated team!read more
Amanda W.
Amanda W.
20:20 16 Feb 22
I've been in the legal field for a while now and not only do I know John Sheppard & Nick Morrow, I have attorney friends that have worked with them throughout the years. This is a great firm and great people that work at Morrow & Sheppard. I have been reading the reviews on here and it makes me... happy to see that their clients think as highly of them as I do.read more
Susan L.
Susan L.
00:17 15 Feb 22
I was injured and my business closed down due to an accident in 2016. Daniel Sheppard became my greatest asset. He hired professional experts for their views and opinions as well as conducting numerous depositions. Daniel is hard working and no nonsense when handling your case. Daniel keeps you... informed on what's going on and what to expect. I'm from Louisiana and my case was in Texas. Daniel Sheppard worked alone side my other attorney Yuri Beck, and the both of them did a fantastic job representing me and settling my case. Daniel Sheppard of Morrow & Sheppard in Texas and Yuri Beck of Hunter & Beck in Louisiana are my lawyers for LIFE.read more
Dale S.
Dale S.
14:24 04 Jan 22
Nick Morrow and John Sheppard were the lead attorneys on my case to hold an apartment complex with inadequate security responsible for the death of my son. The two of them were focused and determined to represent me and my son's children with tenacity. As the case continued over time, it became... apparent that we were not merely clients that were a means to a financial end to them but people who had experienced a life changing and devastating loss. They realized that as a result of our loss, there needed to be accountability that could only be obtained through legal actions. Throughout the legal process, Nick Morrow and John Sheppard were not only professional and transparent but also compassionate and empathetic as they lead us through the difficult and sometimes confusing legal maze. Every person in their office that was involved with our case exemplified an extension of the genuine concern that began with attorneys Morrow and Sheppard. I have and will continue to recommend this firm to individuals who find themselves in need of legal representation.read more
Rosie E.
Rosie E.
18:18 23 Nov 21
The legal team at Morrow and Shepherd worked hard to help me win my case where a motorist who caused the accident changed her story and lied about the accident. A previous attorney kept telling me that I would probably have to pay some of the medical costs out of my own pocket.Daniel, my... attorney, assured me that he would it is best to make sure this did not happen and that he would fight to get me the best compensation possible. He was true to his word.I'm happy with their work, happy with the compensation and would definitely use them again.The Legal Assistant, Chris, was always professional, friendly and polite and a pleasure to work with.A big thanks to the team!Donread more
Don D.
Don D.
01:52 21 Nov 21
Nick and his group have helped where they can and are working hard to get a resolution to my injuries. I spoke with 4 different law firms prior to choosing Morrow & Sheppard LLP.ThanksJeff
Jeff N.
Jeff N.
19:28 18 Nov 21
My Husband was injured at work, & with not knowing what to do or where to turn.We can say Thanks to John,& Jimenez @ Marrow & Sheppard,that represented my Husband we are very Satisfy & happy with the outcome and would recommend them to any others seeking professional lawyers. thanks to Morrow &... Sheppard.read more
bella L.
bella L.
04:24 22 Sep 21
I was referred to Daniel Sheppard because of a car accident I had been in. I was very impressed with how he told me about the process of how things worked and the things to expect. He was very forth coming and always supportive. The experience was a positive one and ended on a great note! I highly... recommend him.Elizabeth Varonread more
Elizabeth Swanson V.
Elizabeth Swanson V.
01:25 03 Sep 21
Before I engaged John Sheppard, I was concerned that I might lose my case. However, John came onboard, turned things around, and set me on a good course to win. He got up to speed quickly on the facts and determined exactly what we needed to do. He is great at strategy, filing discovery and... other motions, and arguing before the court. I was extremely pleased with the outcome of my case. If you need legal help in a personal injury action, commercial law or whatever, hire him immediately! He is a pleasure to work with, will thoroughly explain all to you in a manner you can understand, and will get you the best possible outcome. A+++read more
Christine E.
Christine E.
01:20 11 May 21
I was seriously injured and they represented me and I was so happy with the outcome and would recommend them to any others seeking professional lawyers. They also set me up with the best doctors. My son and I have now put this lawsuit behind us thanks to Morrow & Sheppard.
BB C.
BB C.
18:53 22 Apr 21
Phenomenal lawyer. I can not heap enough praise on these guys,.
Stephen T.
Stephen T.
03:28 04 Nov 20
Nick Morrow is a GREAT lawyer that really knows his job. He made me feel comfortable about hiring him to handle my case. He’s trustworthy and very compassionate about his work. His staff is awesome also, everyone was nice and friendly to me when I visited the office. The settlement I received... exceeded my expectations, it was four times what I expected. I would highly recommend Morrow and Sheppard to anyone needing legal representation. Thanks again Nick!!read more
III 4.
III 4.
21:08 27 May 20
I was injured working offshore. Morrow & Sheppard handled my maritime case and won a great settlement for me. If you have been injured at work, Morrow & Sheppard are great offshore injury lawyers.
tim C.
tim C.
02:19 30 Nov 19
Morrow & Sheppard won my family a multimillion dollar settlement in a wrongful death case after my kids’ father died. The settlement money will help make sure my family is taken care of, and that my kids can go to college. If you have a wrongful death case or a loved one dies at work, call Morrow... & Sheppard. They will take care of you.read more
Dwana M.
Dwana M.
16:26 27 Nov 19
Morrow & Sheppard helped me when my employer breached my contract. They took the case from start to finish, and won our trial. If you’ve been injured or wronged at work, call Morrow & Sheppard.
Ky Evans - Celebrity Strength Coach (The LIFT L.
Ky Evans - Celebrity Strength Coach (The LIFT L.
22:53 14 Nov 19
I suffered a work injury when the work vehicle I was riding in was involved in an accident with another car. Morrow & Sheppard took my case and won a great settlement for me. If you need a work injury attorney, I highly recommend Morrow & Sheppard.
Dinah R.
Dinah R.
00:39 12 Nov 19
Nick Morrow and John Sheppard are the best. I was paralyzed in a work injury. Several other lawyers turned down my case. Morrow & Sheppard hired expensive experts, took dozens of depositions, and proved my case. I saw them in court against a team of defense lawyers, and the defense lawyers... didn’t stand a chance. Morrow & Sheppard took my case all the way when nobody else would. Now my family is set up for life. Throughout the process, they kept me updated and made me feel like I was more than a number. I still talk to Nick to this day. Morrow & Sheppard exceeded my expectations in every way, and I cannot recommend them enough. If you are injured at work, call Morrow & Sheppard.read more
jeff H.
jeff H.
23:20 17 Oct 18
Nick Morrow represented me in a commercial dispute and achieved a positive and quick resolution. Both Nick Morrow and John Sheppard have the background, determination, dedication and passion that is critical when choosing legal representation. I highly recommend them for your legal needs.
Sallie M.
Sallie M.
18:55 01 Aug 15
Morrow & Sheppard is a great law firm. Both Nick and John are excellent attorneys that aggressively and zealously pursue their clients' claims.
Yusuf B.
Yusuf B.
15:44 22 Jul 15
John Sheppard, with Morrow & Sheppard LLP, is brilliant. On more than one occasion, he successfully represented various affiliated companies I was part of. John is very diligent, thorough and fights hard for righteousness. There were numerous times that he helped us through extremely difficult... moments. John is very professional, responsive and respectful. I highly endorse Morrow and Sheppard LLP for legal representation and/or legal assistance needs.read more
Don K.
Don K.
21:19 15 Jul 15
John and Nick are well trained, experienced, smart and most importantly, tenaciously dedicated to their clients' interests. They will get the job done right.
Andy P.
Andy P.
18:41 14 Jul 15
Should I ever need an attorney Morrow & Sheppard will be my first call. Having known them both for many years now I know the passion and dedication that they both have toward their work. They both have a solid background that helps them to meet any needs that clients may have. I would recommend... them to anyone in need of an attorney.read more
Keith C.
Keith C.
16:39 14 Jul 15
My experience with John, at Morrow and Sheppard, during my company’s litigation was better than I could have imagined (considering the circumstances of being involved in litigation). What stood out to me the most, was John’s tenacity in preparation. I later realized this came from two places, one... he didn’t want to lose and two (and most importantly) he CARED so much about me getting justice. I cannot stress this enough, when you are dealing with a lawyer that truly cares, then all of the other stresses I had around the case seemed to go away. I was always kept up to date with what was going on in our case, and he always made it very clear he was just an email or call away! In addition to these attributes, he also knows the law and is willing to fight for what is right! It would be tough to find another lawyer that is as highly effective, skilled, knowledgeable, ethical and has such an impeccable reputation (which is well deserved). I would recommend Morrow and Sheppard to anyone seeking out a law firm, in the event they needed counsel.read more
Brian R
Brian R
16:04 14 Jul 15
Nick and John are a great team. They are both honest, trustworthy and have a tenacious work ethic on behalf of their clients. They stand behind these qualities, having left partnerships at great law firms to commit 100% to achieving results for individuals and businesses. They will fight for... you and I'm proud to call them clients and friends.read more
Jim B.
Jim B.
13:58 13 Jul 15
I cannot think of anyone I would trust more for legal advice. First class attorneys.
Claire M.
Claire M.
04:13 11 Jul 15
John and Nick are outstanding lawyers. They are both extremely sharp, skilled, hard-working, and passionate about what they do. I would highly recommend either of them to anyone looking for high-level service that also happens to be affordable.
Will M.
Will M.
22:08 10 Jul 15
I've known Nick for many years; he's a first-class person in all regards and I would absolutely recommend him to anybody with legal needs.
Dan E.
Dan E.
14:42 01 Jul 15
Nick's an outstanding lawyer and an even better person. I would recommend Morrow & Sheppard to anyone seeking legal representation.
Billy O.
Billy O.
23:07 30 Jun 15
I have known Nick Morrow for many years, and he is incredibly trustworthy, intelligent, and generally one of the best people I know. Without question, I would recommend him and his firm to anyone needing legal representation.
Koetting J.
Koetting J.
22:26 30 Jun 15
Morrow and Sheppard represented my business in a dispute and was able to quickly and successfully achieve a settlement. The attention to detail and timely work was very beneficial to us. I highly recommend Morrow & Sheppard.
Matt G.
Matt G.
14:40 26 Jun 15
Best injury lawyers around. Honest attorneys; tenacious on behalf of their clients.
Chris D.
Chris D.
21:38 25 Jun 15
Thoughtful, hardworking, brilliant. These guys are the real deal.
Annie E.
Annie E.
17:33 24 Jun 15
Morrow & Sheppard would be my first call for legal assistance. I have known Nick Morrow for years and I cannot say enough positive things about him. He is smart, dedicated, ethical, dependable, and very thorough with every client. I would strongly recommend this firm to anyone looking for top of... the line legal assistance.read more
Anne Louise C.
Anne Louise C.
15:28 24 Jun 15
Morrow & Sheppard LLP is an outstanding law firm. I have known Nick Morrow for many years. He is honest, hardworking, and very attentive to his clients. I could not recommend him enough for your legal needs.
Caroline B.
Caroline B.
21:25 23 Jun 15
Nick Morrow represented my hospital in a rather messy multi-party contractual dispute between our landlord and a third party tenant that ended in a favorable outcome for our side. Throughout the process Nick provided excellent follow-up, strategic insight, and guidance. I would highly recommend... Morrow and Sheppard for legal services.read more
Sam R.
Sam R.
21:05 23 Jun 15
Nick Morrow and John Sheppard are extremely knowledgeable, hard-working, and attentive. They go above and beyond to meet the needs of each and every client. I highly recommend this law firm for your next case.
Megan M.
Megan M.
16:17 23 Jun 15
Nick Morrow is an extremely trustworthy, smart, and loyal individual. I would highly recommend his firm to anyone needing legal assistance.
Kendall M.
Kendall M.
14:58 23 Jun 15
I know Nick Morrow to be an extremely trustworthy and compassionate individual who represents his clients with utmost respect and persistence. Without hesitation, I would recommend Morrow & Sheppard to anyone needing legal advice or counsel.
Mollie S.
Mollie S.
16:18 22 Jun 15
I've known Nick Morrow for many years now and know there isn't a more loyal, hard-working, or trustworthy attorney out there. I would highly recommend him and his team to anyone in need of an attorney that gets results.
Mike V.
Mike V.
15:44 22 Jun 15
Morrow & Sheppard are second to none. Nick and John are a class act. My experience with the firm could not have been better.
Jeffrey W.
Jeffrey W.
20:10 19 Jun 15
The dedication and hard work of Morrow & Sheppard are second to none. One of the brightest and exceptionally run firms out there. I highly recommend them.
James J.
James J.
19:57 19 Jun 15
js_loader
Go to Top