The Seacrest Drill Ship
(Southern Gulf of Thailand)
Depth 70meters ; Trimix diving only
Details of Sinking
Sunk by ‘Typhoon Gay’ 3 November 1989.
91 rig workers of many nationalities were killed in the disaster, leading to a massive legal case brought against the ships owners UNOCAL, Thailand(now Chevron) by over 90 bereaved relatives from around the world. After the vessel capsized and the storm blew through, the rescue authorities had problems located it, leading to the only 2 survivors of the calamity spending an unusually long amount of time in the water prior to recovery. The sinking represented the third worst oil rig disaster anywhere, though there is little or no mention of the loss on the www oil rig disaster sites.
Investigation revealed the reason the rig went over was that the drill ship had the Derrick full of 200 ton of pipe, and was still connected to the well head at the time the storm hit leading to a high C of G and compromised stability.
Standard practice with this type of vessel is to lay down pipe when bad weather threatens.
It is alleged that UNOCAL said “No” to stowing the pipe so as to save time resulting in 91 deaths.
(See different accounts and updates to this controversial sinking below)
The SeaCrest did not sink immediately after capsizing and stayed afloat for several days. Veteran UNOCAL Commercial Diver and well known Thailand technical diver Fred Evans was involved in the SeaCrest body recovery exercise. Fred repeatedly entering into the tangled mess of the capsized sinking Seacrest to recover crew members bodies in what had to be one of the nastiest recovery dives I have ever heard of. Diver/Engineer ‘B2’
UNOCAL – The SeaCrests owners at the time of the disaster is now a defunct company – more info here
Update 16 December 2012
I just want to say thank you and if you could please pass my thoughts and prayers to those who were affected by this disaster then please do.
I think people sometimes think that since it is in the past, people have forgotten. They haven’t.
There are many who were deeply affected by this. I’m one of the descendents of those who died that day, my father was on the Seacrest as a geologist. I remember meeting a man who came by our home in Thailand who wanted to pass his condolences and thanks, he said my dad gave up his place on the helicopter to him before the storm grew worse.
I remember the long court case, I remember the night we watched the news when the storm broke, I remember every detail of that day and the horrible period that followed without our father even though I was only 7 years old.
Years have gone by and I still think of him and those who lost their lives that day. I think of how hundreds and thousands of families are constantly affected by events like this. When I go diving, I always have it in the back of my mind. It is a love/hate relationship with the sea. I suppose I’m writing to simply say that I hope they don’t feel alone, that they’re also in my thoughts. Thank you for creating this website, for keeping the memory on, that years from now these people will not be forgotten. (author:- anonymous)