A massive offshore Oil Rig
launched in 1976 and stationed near Newfoundland
's Grand Banks
. It capsized during a storm on February 15, 1982
. In this Canadian
Nautical Disaster, all 84 crew died. After the incident, a Royal Commision
underwent a technical analysis of how the world's largest semi-submersible self-propelled drilling platform could be upended in the middle of the night.
On the night in question, poorly-understood massive waves known as rogue wave
s were breaking on the high elevated deck of the huge structure. The Ranger had ridden out bad storms before, but this time a porthole on one of the pontoons was smashed by the sheer force of wave action from 21 meter waves. Salt water shorted electrical equipment in a control room. A small amount of flooding took place and a slight listing occurred. Even in this condition, the rig would have easily survived the night.
In the mayhem that ensued, manual action was taken to compensate for the flooding by counterflooding. Unfortunately, the staff were never trained for this procedure. Tragically, ballast
control valves were operated in such a way that they actually worsened the problem. The listing increased to a point of no return
The captain issued an evacuation order. Those who didn't get blown off the deck took to lifeboats on those roaring, frozen seas. The lifeboats were no match for the waves, and even those with survival suits were not equipped for prolonged exposure in the frozen seas. They didn't even have enough survival suits for the entire crew. 21 meter waves and 145 kilometer per hour winds (Beaufort Scale
12) hampered rescue efforts. All hands were lost.
In the end, blame was placed on three factors: design (such as the porthole near non-waterproofed electrical equipment), inattention to safety (e.g. lack of survival suits) and lack of training (e.g. ballast training, evacuation procedures).