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Accident on Southern Cal Oil Rigs Dive

Discussion in 'Accidents and Incidents' started by Hatul, Nov 11, 2017.

  1. Norwegian Cave Diver

    Norwegian Cave Diver Barracuda

    # of Dives: 200 - 499
    Location: Calgary Alberta Canada
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    Thanks. IMHO - diving in water deeper than you would normally feel safe descending to - and having only one form of active inflation - wing/bcd vs wing/bcd and a drysuit seems very risky when the real bottom is beyond your air/gas supply MOD. Are there descussions regarding what to do in case of inflation/buoyancy issues? I’m not trying to be critical of the dive but instead trying to understand what the dive briefing would include regarding bouyancy.
     
  2. vladodessit

    vladodessit Solo Diver

    # of Dives: 100 - 199
    Location: Los Angeles, CA
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    You are expected to know your own limits while diving in Southern California. No babysitters, no in water DM. Technically, you can arrest the uncontrolled descent by stopping at the crossbeam. Unless you are too far to reach it
     
    Norwegian Cave Diver likes this.
  3. garibald

    garibald Angel Fish

    # of Dives: 100 - 199
    Location: Pasadena
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    The first crossbeam is around 55 ft and second 110 ft.
     
  4. DandyDon

    DandyDon Old men ought to be explorers ScubaBoard Supporter

    # of Dives: 200 - 499
    Location: One kilometer high on the Texas High Plains
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    Weight releases. Too many diver bodies are found with weights intact.
     
  5. elgoog

    elgoog DIR Practitioner

    # of Dives: 100 - 199
    Location: San Francisco Bay area
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    I did the oil rigs dives 2 weeks ago. I am nowhere near calling myself an experienced diver but I do have a fair bit of experience diving weekly in California and off boats here where, as @vladodessit mentioned, you need to be pretty much self sufficient and have your s**t together. The reason I mention this is because even with all that being said, these were extremely challenging dives for me.

    Divers more familiar with the rigs can chime in but this was my personal experience as a first time oil rig diver.
    - The boats get a very short window (usually 20min) from the oil rig manager to offload divers. This means that there is a fair bit of urgency just getting in to the water. The boat crew's commands and directions reflect this and can be quite stressful as it may feel like they're yelling at you to get in the water. This didn't bother me as my buddy and I were ready to go but I certainly saw some divers get pretty flustered by it.
    - The boats can't get super close to the rigs due to security reasons so there's always a surface swim to the rigs, sometimes a 100ft or so in pretty significant swell. You also have to swim as fast as possible since there can be boats coming and going from the rigs and, from what I saw, they were not very observant of divers in the water. Same for the swim back to the boat. For me, this was absolutely exhausting and the hardest part of the dive.
    - This is open ocean diving with very little protection from swells. Even what looks like a small swell in the forecast has a much more pronounced effect here than closer to land.
    - Depending on ocean conditions, the top 20ft can be quite rough. Even deeper, there was a fair bit of surge horizontally and vertically - we were getting tossed around as much as 10ft in every direction.
    - The next statement is just relevant to me but it was significant enough that I felt I should mention it. The blue water below you is absolutely hypnotic. I was anxious enough as it is about this dive and not having anything below me was nerve wracking. It's not hard for me to imagine this taking a large mental toll to the extent that you can lose situational awareness. My solution was to always swim over a crossbar for pretty much the entire dive (lame, I know).

    I was talking to the boat crew on the ride back to port and they told me a few stories of almost accidents that were pretty terrifying - losing awareness and ending up around 120-150ft seemed to be the most common as that's where one of the crossbars is. We actually even had a rescue on the trip I was on - a diver, new to California diving and in rental gear, freaked out on the surface under the rig and actually climbed up on it in panic (huge no-no, people on the rig were yelling at him to get off, also had his reg out, mask pulled down to his neck, not responding to any instructions); the safety diver had to swim out and get him.

    Again, the above is only my personal experience and assessment of the dives (based on 1 trip there). Not adding any specifics about this tragedy, just trying to provide some more context for those reading. Always sad to read these ...
     
  6. Trailboss123

    Trailboss123 Divemaster

    # of Dives: 500 - 999
    Location: Tacoma, WA & Channel Islands, CA- USA
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    Thanks for posting your experience. I am sure many will find it helpful.
     
    AnaMaria Bruce likes this.
  7. Trailboss123

    Trailboss123 Divemaster

    # of Dives: 500 - 999
    Location: Tacoma, WA & Channel Islands, CA- USA
    1,326
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    Body was found today using an underwater ROV. Body was at 200 feet near the oil rig:
    UPDATE: #LASD SEB deep dive cadre using an underwater remotely operated vehicle just located & recovered diver in over 200' depth water near oil platform Elly. Diver was missing since yesterday when Air 5 airlifted his injured dive partner.
     
    Sam Miller III likes this.
  8. vladodessit

    vladodessit Solo Diver

    # of Dives: 100 - 199
    Location: Los Angeles, CA
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  9. Eric Sedletzky

    Eric Sedletzky Loggerhead Turtle

    # of Dives: 500 - 999
    Location: Santa Rosa, CA
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    Tragic to hear about dive accidents.
    I did a few dives on Oil Rig Grace.
    Really cool dives!
    The sea lions got little frisky buzzing everyone.
    I was on a Sea Divers charter, they are all veterans. I could see how just an AOW cert requirement could be questionable. That cert level proves nothing when it comes to an open ocean dive like the oil rigs. The timing is so critical that they split the boat up into two groups. They wanted us all in the water like you were jumping from a plane going into combat. Upon return they wanted two at a time as the boat backed up just long enough to cut power to the props to get the divers back on board as they are live boating in active open ocean swells. The swim platform required perfect timing too since it was pitching up and down quite a bit. Time the swim platform wrong and you could lose a few teeth or get a broken rib. I remember a lot of stern commands and some stress. The other divers are waiting for their turn and required to stay within the structure in a group on the surface. Absolutely no screwing around!! You do what you are told.
     
    oncor23, Umuntu and ScubaSteve85 like this.
  10. yle

    yle Instructor, Scuba

    # of Dives: 500 - 999
    Location: Southern California
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    In my experience diving at the rigs there is not much of a discussion in the dive briefing on buoyancy options, i.e. redundant systems or the like. The essence of the dive briefing has always been "there is no bottom (at least not until you hit 270 feet) so make sure you control your buoyancy." As has been mentioned earlier in the thread, divers from boats in So Cal are expected to have their s**t together and handle their own dives.

    Diving the oil rigs can be deceptively challenging, because it is open ocean with no realistic bottom, and the unique nature of the site tends to draw eager divers that might not be sufficiently prepared (I can certify someone AOW after five dives from the beach... but that card and training in no stretch of the imagination prepares a diver for the oil rigs.)

    I had a conversation with a good friend of the victim yesterday. The friend is an experienced diver and said the victim was also, more than qualified for this kind of dive (so lack of experience was apparently not a factor in this incident.)
     
    Freewillow and shoredivr like this.

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