Oilfield services firm Bibby Offshore confirmed Tuesday that one of its divers survived after an accident that cut his umbilical air supply. The diver, Chris Lemons, had to rely on his standby tank for almost 40 minutes as efforts were made to get him back into a diving bell.
The incident occurred Sept. 18 at the Huntington oil field, approximately 115 nautical miles off Peterhead, Scotland, where the sea is approximately 300 feet deep. It involved the diving support vessel Bibby Topaz, which was supporting two divers working on the seabed and one in the ship's diving bell.
According to Bibby Offshore, at 10:10 p.m. UK time last Tuesday a series of alarms sounded that warned of a problem with the vessel's dynamic positioning (DP) system. The Topaz's dive supervisor then ordered the two divers on the seabed to leave the structure they were working on and return to the diving bell.
Lemons reported that his umbilical had been snagged on the side of the subsea structure before all communications and video with him was lost at 10:12 p.m.
By 10:17 p.m. the Topaz's bridge team had managed to regain control of the vessel, which had drifted approximately 785 feet from its position directly about the subsea structure. The vessel was then taken back into position while a remotely operated vehicle was also employed to help locate the missing diver.
The second diver, who had made it to the diving bell near the start of the incident, then recovered Lemons – who by this time was unconscious – into the bell by 10:48 p.m. According to Bibby Offshore, he soon regained consciousness and was provided with hot water to his suit to warm him up.
Bibby Offshore said that all divers involved in the incident have since been given a clean bill of health, while the company praised the skill, professionalism and expertise of the crew of the Bibby Topaz in carrying out the safe recovery of Lemons.
A spokesman for Bibby Offshore told Rigzone that the company is now "carrying out a full investigation into the cause of the glitch in the DP system which caused the vessel to move off station" and that the firm is also cooperating fully with an official investigation into the incident.
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