Two Missing on Hamilton Oil Irish Sea Rig
A search for two crew members of Hamilton Oil’s Irish Sea rig was called off yesterday evening following an exhaustive search by air/sea rescue services. A spokesperson for the Royal Air Force rescue services from RAF Valley in Anglesey said deteriorating weather conditions had made it impossible to continue search operations.
The two men, not yet named until their families have been informed, are believed to have gone missing two nights ago. Weather conditions on the night they disappeared were mild and it was hoped the men might have survived in the water. The rig, which lies out in the Irish Sea, has enjoyed a one hundred percent safety record until the tragedy. Now workers are claiming to have seen strange lights resulting in a refusal last month of three workers to work on the rig.
Two Named in haunted Rig tragedy
The two men who were lost off the Hamilton Gas Rig near Anglesey were named last night as Joseph Gregg (35) and Pete Caldecott (29). An exhaustive search failed to find the two men and the search was called off after a deterioration in the weather.
Colleagues paid tribute to the two men but disputed the Company’s version of events that freakish weather and hysteria had created a panic on the rig. One worker who was on the rig at the time and didn’t want to be named said, ‘We told the Company that place was haunted but they wouldn’t listen. It wasn’t bad weather.” Another worker on the rig also spoke out, ‘Someone was out there. Maybe it was industrial sabotage but I don’t know. But it wasn’t bad weather…”
Engineer Simon Carter (43) from Sunderland who was also on the rig on the night the two men were lost said, ‘I know it sounds daft but something was out there that night, something not human. I saw those flashes with my own eyes…”
Meanwhile other theories have been put forward to explain what may have happened. Dr Richard Paulson at Liverpool University highlighted the effects that isolated working environments can create. “Extended periods of isolation on oil rigs can disturb sleep patterns and seriously impair cognitive ability.” Dr Paulson who has conducted surveys on workers on North Sea Oil Rigs and scientists in Polar Base camps added that, “It is quite likely something like that happened here about 5% of people in such an environment meet DSM-IV or ICD criteria for psychiatric disorders.”
A Hamilton oil spokesperson downplayed Dr Paulson’s comments saying, “All our workforce are screened for suitability for working in these conditions. Moreover, the working conditions on the Irish Sea rigs are not as remote as North Sea rigs and workers are not subjected to extended working shifts away from friends and family. That said, it is likely that freak localised thunder-storm combined with the sense of isolation created an atmosphere of anxiety with tragic outcomes for all involved. ”
Death by Misadventure
A ‘normal working day’ on Hamilton Oil’s Irish Sea Gas Rig turned to tragedy as two workers fell into the sea in freak weather conditions. John Bailey, Conwy & Denbighshire’s coroner, recorded a verdict of misadventure at a hearing into the deaths of Joseph Graham Gregg 35, and Peter Justin Caldecott 29, both engineers on June 22 last year.
Mr Gregg and Mr Caldecott left the security of the staff cabin area during a severe localised thunder storm , the court heard. The men told colleagues that they investigating a loud banging which they believed to be a part of the rig structure torn loose during the storm.
William Connors told the court that a series of lightening flashes had struck the rig and soon after there was a loud persistent banging above the cabin area which threatened the living quarters.
The court heard that in an atmosphere bordering on panic, imaginations had ‘run wild”. Mr Simon Carter described the noise as “like a thousand savages dancing on a tin roof,’ and added that one college had claimed to have see intruders outside.
Mr Gregg and Mr Caldecott left the living quarters shutting the door behind them and were not seen again. It is presumed they fell in to the sea shortly afterwards. An exhaustive search by helicopters from RAF Valley could find no trace of the men.
The Court heard that after the storm there was no evidence of any damage to the rig which could have accounted for the banging heard by the crew. The Company had speculated that external debris had been deposited on the rig at the commencement of the storm and washed off during the course of it.
The coroner paid tribute to the two men who said they had lost their lives seeking to secure the safety of their colleagues and recorded a verdict of death by misadventure.