Death of Bradley Westell

Last updated
Death of Bradley Westell
Date31 July 1995 (1995-07-31)
Location North Sea, Scotland
CauseUmbilical drawn into vessel thruster
ParticipantsBradley Westell
Deaths1 (Westell)
TrialCase No. T960640, Regina v. Kenneth Roberts [1]

Bradley Westell was a British commercial diver who died on 31 July 1995 in the North Sea off Bacton, Norfolk after his umbilical was dragged into one of the thrusters of the diving support vessel Stena Orelia. The accident led to the 1997 conviction of diving supervisor Kenneth Roberts for perverting the course of justice. [2] [3] Roberts received the first prison sentence ever given for a crime committed offshore by a person working in the North Sea oil industry. [4]

North Sea marginal sea of the Atlantic Ocean

The North Sea is a marginal sea of the Atlantic Ocean located between the United Kingdom, Denmark, Norway, Sweden, Germany, the Netherlands, Belgium and France. An epeiric sea on the European continental shelf, it connects to the ocean through the English Channel in the south and the Norwegian Sea in the north. It is more than 970 kilometres (600 mi) long and 580 kilometres (360 mi) wide, with an area of 570,000 square kilometres (220,000 sq mi).

Bacton, Norfolk village in the United Kingdom

Bacton is a village and civil parish in Norfolk, England. It is on the Norfolk coast, some 20 kilometres (12 mi) south-east of Cromer, 40 kilometres (25 mi) north-west of Great Yarmouth and 30 kilometres (19 mi) north of Norwich. Besides the village of Bacton, the parish includes the nearby settlements of Bacton Green, Broomholm, Keswick and Pollard Street. It also includes Edingthorpe, which was added to Bacton civil parish under the County of Norfolk Review Order, 1935.

Diving support vessel A ship used as a floating base for professional diving projects

A diving support vessel is a ship that is used as a floating base for professional diving projects.

Related Research Articles

Diving medicine Diagnosis, treatment and prevention of disorders caused by underwater diving

Diving medicine, also called undersea and hyperbaric medicine (UHB), is the diagnosis, treatment and prevention of conditions caused by humans entering the undersea environment. It includes the effects on the body of pressure on gases, the diagnosis and treatment of conditions caused by marine hazards and how relationships of a diver's fitness to dive affect a diver's safety.

Scuba diving Using bottled air to swim underwater

Scuba diving is a mode of underwater diving where the diver uses a self-contained underwater breathing apparatus (scuba), which is completely independent of surface supply, to breathe underwater. Scuba divers carry their own source of breathing gas, usually compressed air, allowing them greater independence and freedom of movement than surface-supplied divers, and longer underwater endurance than breath-hold divers. Although the use of compressed air is common, a new mixture called enriched air (Nitrox) has been gaining popularity due to its benefit of reduced nitrogen intake during repetitive dives. Open circuit scuba systems discharge the breathing gas into the environment as it is exhaled, and consist of one or more diving cylinders containing breathing gas at high pressure which is supplied to the diver through a regulator. They may include additional cylinders for range extension, decompression gas or emergency breathing gas. Closed-circuit or semi-closed circuit rebreather scuba systems allow recycling of exhaled gases. The volume of gas used is reduced compared to that of open circuit, so a smaller cylinder or cylinders may be used for an equivalent dive duration. Rebreathers extend the time spent underwater compared to open circuit for the same gas consumption; they produce fewer bubbles and less noise than open circuit scuba which makes them attractive to covert military divers to avoid detection, scientific divers to avoid disturbing marine animals, and media divers to avoid bubble interference.

<i>Byford Dolphin</i> Semi-submersible offshore drilling rig

Byford Dolphin is a semi-submersible, column-stabilised drilling rig operated by Dolphin Drilling, a Fred. Olsen Energy subsidiary, and in 2009 contracted by BP for drilling in the United Kingdom section of the North Sea for three years. It is registered in Hamilton, Bermuda.

Solo diving Recreational diving without a dive buddy

Solo diving is the practice of underwater diving without a "dive buddy", particularly with reference to scuba diving, but the term is also applied to freediving. Surface supplied diving and atmospheric suit diving are single diver underwater activities but are accompanied by an on-surface support team dedicated to the safety of the diver, and not considered solo diving in its truest sense.

Underwater diving Descending below the surface of the water to interact with the environment

Underwater diving, as a human activity, is the practice of descending below the water's surface to interact with the environment. Immersion in water and exposure to high ambient pressure have physiological effects that limit the depths and duration possible in ambient pressure diving. Humans are not physiologically and anatomically well adapted to the environmental conditions of diving, and various equipment has been developed to extend the depth and duration of human dives, and allow different types of work to be done.

Scientific diving The use of diving techniques in the pursuit of scientific knowledge

Scientific diving is the use of underwater diving techniques by scientists to perform work underwater in the direct pursuit of scientific knowledge. The legal definition of scientific diving varies by jurisdiction. Scientific divers are normally qualified scientists first and divers second, who use diving equipment and techniques as their way to get to the location of their fieldwork. The direct observation and manipulation of marine habitats afforded to scuba-equipped scientists have transformed the marine sciences generally, and marine biology and marine chemistry in particular. Underwater archeology and geology are other examples of sciences pursued underwater. Some scientific diving is carried out by universities in support of undergraduate or postgraduate research programs, and government bodies such as the United States Environmental Protection Agency and the UK Environment Agency carry out scientific diving to recover samples of water, marine organisms and sea, lake or riverbed material to examine for signs of pollution.

American Nitrox Divers International Recreational diver training and certification agency

American Nitrox Divers International was founded by Ed Betts and Dick Rutkowski in 1988.

Robert Sténuit Belgian journalist, writer, underwater archeologist and the first aquanaut.

Robert Pierre André Sténuit is a Belgian journalist, writer, and underwater archeologist. In 1962 he spent 24 hours on the floor of the Mediterranean Sea in the submersible "Link Cylinder" developed by Edwin Link, thus becoming the world's first aquanaut.

Commercial offshore diving Professional diving in support of the oil and gas industry

Commercial offshore diving, sometimes shortened to just offshore diving, is a branch of commercial diving, with divers working in support of the exploration and production sector of the oil and gas industry in places such as the Gulf of Mexico in the United States, the North Sea in the United Kingdom and Norway, and along the coast of Brazil. The work in this area of the industry includes maintenance of oil platforms and the building of underwater structures. In this context "offshore" implies that the diving work is done outside of national boundaries.

Dewey Smith American aquanaut. Died in diving accident.

Dewey Dewayne Smith was an underwater diver, former United States Navy medic and professional aquanaut. He died during a dive from the Aquarius underwater habitat off Key Largo in May 2009. A subsequent investigation determined that multiple factors combined to cause the accident.

Diving supervisor Professional diving team leader responsible for safety

The diving supervisor is the professional diving team member who is directly responsible for the diving operation's safety and the management of any incidents or accidents that may occur during the operation; the supervisor is required to be available at the control point of the diving operation for the diving operation's duration, and to manage the planned dive and any contingencies that may occur. Details of competence, requirements, qualifications, registration and formal appointment differ depending on jurisdiction and relevant codes of practice. Diving supervisors are used in commercial diving, military diving, public safety diving and scientific diving operations.

Human factors are the physical or cognitive properties of individuals, or social behavior which is specific to humans, and influence functioning of technological systems as well as human-environment equilibria. The safety of underwater diving operations can be improved by reducing the frequency of human error and the consequences when it does occur. Human error can be defined as an individual's deviation from acceptable or desirable practice which culminates in undesirable or unexpected results.

Dive safety is primarily a function of four factors: the environment, equipment, individual diver performance and dive team performance. The water is a harsh and alien environment which can impose severe physical and psychological stress on a diver. The remaining factors must be controlled and coordinated so the diver can overcome the stresses imposed by the underwater environment and work safely. Diving equipment is crucial because it provides life support to the diver, but the majority of dive accidents are caused by individual diver panic and an associated degradation of the individual diver's performance. - M.A. Blumenberg, 1996

The Johnson Sea Link accident was a June 1973 incident that claimed the lives of two divers. During a seemingly routine dive off Key West, the submersible Johnson Sea Link was trapped for over 24 hours in the wreckage of the destroyer USS Fred T. Berry, which had been sunk to create an artificial reef. Although the submersible was eventually recovered by the rescue vessel A.B. Wood II, two of the four occupants died of carbon dioxide poisoning: 31-year-old Edwin Clayton Link and 51-year-old diver Albert Dennison Stover. The submersible's pilot, Archibald "Jock" Menzies, and ichthyologist Robert Meek survived. Over the next two years, Edwin Link designed an unmanned Cabled Observation and Rescue Device (CORD) that could free a trapped submersible.

<i>Wildrake</i> diving accident Fatal offshore diving accident in Scotland, 1979

The Wildrake diving accident was an incident in Scotland in August 1979 that claimed the lives of two American commercial divers. During a seemingly routine dive in the East Shetland Basin of the North Sea, the diving bell of the diving support vessel MS Wildrake became separated from its main lift wire at a depth of over 160 metres (520 ft). Although the bell was eventually recovered by Wildrake, its two occupants, 32-year-old Richard Arthur Walker and 28-year-old Victor Francis "Skip" Guiel Jr., died of hypothermia. The accident resulted in extensive subsequent litigation and led to important safety changes in the diving industry.

The Star Canopus diving accident was an incident in Scotland in November 1978 that claimed the lives of two British commercial divers. During a routine dive beside the Beryl Alpha platform in the North Sea, the diving bell of the diving support vessel MS Star Canopus was lost when its main lift wire, life support umbilical, and guide wires were severed by an anchor chain of the semi-submersible Haakon Magnus. The bell dropped to the seabed at a depth of over 100 metres (330 ft). Its two occupants, 25-year-old Lothar Michael Ward and 28-year-old Gerard Anthony "Tony" Prangley, were unable to release the bell's drop weight in order to return to the surface because it was secured to the bell frame with secondary locking pins. Since there was not a bell stage to keep the bottom door of the bell off the seabed, the divers could not exit the bell to release the pins. Despite the efforts of three rescue vessels – Intersub 4, Tender Carrier, and Uncle John – the bell was not recovered for over thirteen hours, by which time Ward and Prangley had died of hypothermia and drowning.

<i>Drill Master</i> diving accident Fatal diving bell accident off Norway in 1974

The Drill Master diving accident was an incident in Norway in January 1974 that claimed the lives of two Ocean Systems' commercial divers. During a two-man dive from the North Sea rig Drill Master, the diving bell's drop weight was accidentally released, causing the bell to surface from a depth of 320 feet (98 m) with its bottom door open and drag the diver working outside through the water on his umbilical. The two divers, Pier Skipness and Robert John Smyth, both died from rapid decompression and drowning. The accident was caused by instructions aboard Drill Master which had not been updated when the bell system was modified and which stated that a valve should be closed during the dive which should have been open.

<i>Stena Seaspread</i> diving accident Saturation diving bell incident with successful rescue in the North Sea in 1981

Eighteen months after the Wildrake diving accident, the Thistle SALM was the site for another bell diving accident.

Three miles east of the North Cormorant oil field in the North Sea, the crew on board the drill rig Venture One was preparing to lower a Blow Out Preventer (BOP) to the seabed 510 feet (160 m) below. It was 10 May 1977, and International Underwater Contractors (IUC) diving supervisor Richard Pettit had been asked to inspect the Permanent Guide Base to verify that it was clear of any obstructions that might prevent the installation of the BOP.

The safety of underwater diving depends on four factors: the environment, the equipment, behaviour of the individual diver and performance of the dive team. The underwater environment can impose severe physical and psychological stress on a diver, and is mostly beyond the diver's control. Equipment is used to operate underwater for anything beyond very short periods, and the reliable function of some of the equipment is critical to even short term survival. Other equipment allows the diver to operate in relative comfort and efficiency. The performance of the individual diver depends on learned skills, many of which are not intuitive, and the performance of the team depends on communication and common goals.

Investigation of diving accidents includes investigations into the causes of reportable incidents in professional diving and recreational diving accidents, usually when there is a fatality or litigation for gross negligence.

References

  1. Smart, Michael (2011). Into the Lion's Mouth: The Story of the Wildrake Diving Accident. Medford, Oregon: Lion's Mouth Publishing. pp. 387, 424 note 23. ISBN   978-0-615-52838-0. LCCN   2011915008.
  2. "Supervisor cleared over diver's death". The Herald (Glasgow) . 22 July 1997. Retrieved 20 March 2017.
  3. Limbrick, Jim (2001). North Sea Divers - a Requiem. Hertford: Authors OnLine. pp. 176–178. ISBN   0 7552 0036 5.
  4. Smart 2011 , pp. 358, 387