View Full Version : Civilian helicopter down in North Sea (Threads merged)

16th Jul 2002, 20:34
Seven people were missing tonight after a civilian helicopter crashed into the sea 25 miles north-east of Great Yarmouth, the Ministry of Defence said.

16th Jul 2002, 20:38
By Sherna Noah, PA News
Seven people were missing tonight after a civilian helicopter crashed into the sea 25 miles north-east of Great Yarmouth, the Ministry of Defence said.
Four of the 11 people on board were rescued after the aircraft went down.
An MoD spokesman said: “Eleven people were on board a civilian helicopter which crashed into the sea 25 miles north-east of Great Yarmouth.
“An RAF Sea King from Wattisham in Suffolk was scrambled at 7.50pm as part of the rescue operation, which is ongoing.”
“Four casualties were rescued and coastguards have got a vessel looking for casualties.”

16th Jul 2002, 20:42
Later, a spokeswoman for Great Yarmouth coastguards said five people had been recovered.
The helicopter was bringing workers from a North Sea gas field when it ditched about 30 miles off Cromer, she said.
The helicopter is believed to be owned by the firm Bristow.
The spokeswoman said a rescue helicopter from a military base in Wattisham, Suffolk was in the area along with the Cromer Lifeboat and other vessels.
Rescued casualties had been taken to The Santa Fe Monarch oil rig, the MoD said.

16th Jul 2002, 20:45
S76 with 11 on board.

Hope to God they get all 11 back safe and well.

Stupendous Man
16th Jul 2002, 21:00
Latest from sky news

7 Missing In North Sea Helicopter Crash

Seven people are missing after a helicopter bound for an oil rig crashed in the North Sea.

The helicopter was carrying 11 people in all, four of whom have already been rescued.

The helicopter crashed at around 8.20pm on Tuesday night around 25 miles off the coast near Great Yarmouth according to the Royal Navy.

"Four people have been taken from the sea and their condition is not known at this time," an air force spokesman told Sky News.

It was not immediately clear whether whether the the downed aircraft was a civillian or military helicopter.

Conditions at sea are reported to be calm.

16th Jul 2002, 21:06
Sky now saying it was a Super Puma and 5 have now been found.

Aircraft on it's way to Santa Fe Monarch.

Hope they find they all.

Stupendous Man
16th Jul 2002, 21:11
Believe its a Bristows 76

16th Jul 2002, 21:14
BBC & ITV news @ 2200 both giving BHL S76

Thoughts and hopes for all.

fat pax
16th Jul 2002, 21:14

Seven people are missing after a helicopter crashed into North Sea off the Norfolk coast.
The civilian Super Puma helicopter went down 25 miles north-east of Great Yarmouth on Tuesday night, said the Ministry of Defence.

A total of five people have reportedly been found in the sea.

A massive search and rescue operation is continuing for the other people on board.

An MoD spokesman said: "An RAF Sea King from Wattisham in Suffolk was scrambled at 7.50pm as part of the rescue operation, which is ongoing."

He said coastguards have a vessel looking for casualties.

Search vessels

A spokeswoman for Great Yarmouth coastguards said the helicopter was bringing workers from a North Sea gas field when it ditched.

The helicopter is believed to be owned by the firm Bristow.

The spokeswoman said a rescue helicopter from a military base in Wattisham, Suffolk was in the area along with the Cromer Lifeboat and other vessels.

Rescued casualties had been taken to the Santa Fe Monarch oil rig, the MoD said.

A spokesman for the East Anglia Ambulance NHS Trust in Norfolk said they are liaising with the coastguards.

"We have not received any patients yet but have senior officers at strategic points throughout the north of the county.

"We have crews on standby and will await news from the coastguard as to where survivors will be brought."

The spokesman said the James Paget Hospital, in Gorleston, near Great Yarmouth, was on standby to receive patients.


As in all circumstances such as these, my thoughts are with those involved and their families.

Stupendous Man
16th Jul 2002, 21:26
BBC and ITV news say a S76 but their websites say Super Puma!?!?!?

16th Jul 2002, 21:28
To my knowledge, Bristow doesn't have any Super Pumas out of Norwich and the numbers concerned certainly seem to indicate a S76

Stupendous Man
16th Jul 2002, 21:40
Unfortunately Sky News is now saying 5 killed and 6 missing.

Thoughts go out to all involved.

16th Jul 2002, 21:43
Sorry chaps a bit of misinformation in my last post. I've spoken with some one 'close' to the incident and it was definatley a Bristow S76 (VX).

Capn Notarious
16th Jul 2002, 21:47
Wouldnt it be an advancement in reporting : if the media restrained themselves and, did not use words like crashed.
The truth is not known: all is speculation and upsettiing; it might have been a controlled event.
How do make them change and put a sympathetic style into news casting?
Because selling news papers is not the main criteria.

Stupendous Man
16th Jul 2002, 21:57

Five Dead In Helicopter Crash
Five people are dead and six more are missing after a helicopter bound for a gas field crashed in the North Sea.

The helicopter, owned by Shell Oil, ditched at around 8.20pm on Tuesday night, around 25 miles off the coast near Great Yarmouth, according to the Royal Navy.

Also http://www.itv.com/news/Britain1825700.html

16th Jul 2002, 23:51
Capt Notarious.....five dead...rest missing.....weather benign....light winds...."controlled" ??? Twin engine helicopter operating within CAT A specs....two very experienced , well trained pilots.....not going to speculate here at all. Lets wait for the information to come out.

Definitely holdin my breath until the crew's names are released.....may have to stop over in the UK enroute to work in the Middle East, to go pay my respects to the families....this is getting to be too common an occurrence.

17th Jul 2002, 01:40
From the Telegraph:

Eleven British gas rig workers were thought to have been killed last night after a support helicopter crashed into the North Sea.

The Sikorsky S76 helicopter, operated by Bristow Helicopters, ditched 25 miles north east of Great Yarmouth at around 8pm. The helicopter was carrying two crew members and nine workers from the Clipper natural gas platform, operated by Shell.

A coastguard spokesman said: "We have recovered six bodies and are looking for five others. We are not expecting to find survivors."

He added: "There were two crew on board and nine passengers. We received a mayday call and within minutes the fast rescue boats from the rig were on scene. But the impact had been so severe that the occupants we found had suffered appalling injuries and had not survived."

The cause of the crash was not clear last night.

RAF Kinloss, in northern Scotland, which was helping to co-ordinate the rescue, said weather conditions were good.

The coastguard spokesman added: "Normally, if a helicopter manages to make a controlled landing into the water it will float long enough for the passengers and crew to escape and probably survive.

"But it seems that this Bristow helicopter hit the water at a high speed judging by the amount of damage it sustained and the injuries the victims suffered."

The accident comes 10 years after 11 oil workers were killed when a Super Puma helicopter went down in the North Sea. In that accident, in March 1992, the helicopter crashed in gales and driving snow.

17th Jul 2002, 08:34
My deepest sympathy goes out to all touched by this incident.....

17th Jul 2002, 08:53
Sad sad news again. Heard that all S76's are grounded, but does that mean worldwide?
Friend of mine is a freelance offshore worker as a diver and sat those S76's before. Safety training is hard and i am wodering what the hell went wrong.
Very anxious to read the rapport about it before all kinds of speculation occurs.

Thoughts go to family's and collegue's.

17th Jul 2002, 09:08
A very sad day, and a time to remember the very real dangers which North Sea pilots face.
God rest the souls of those who died.
Our thoughts and prayers are with them and with their families.


17th Jul 2002, 09:11
:( Very sad news to me, especially as one flying this type of aircraft for a living.

My thoughts go to all those involved, families, friends, all at Bristows.

17th Jul 2002, 10:06
Five people have now been confirmed dead and a massive SAR operation is continuing for a further six who had been on board.

The S76 was on a routine trip from Norwich airport to rigs in the North Sea. It left Norwich at 1900 BST on Tuesday with nine workers and two crew on board, flew to the Clipper platform, and then continued to the Santa Fe Monarch drilling rig.
It was on this leg of the journey that the helicopter crashed, two miles from the rig.
Staff on the Santa Fe Monarch rig made the call to the coastguard saying the helicopter had gone down.


An RAF Sea King from Wattisham in Suffolk was scrambled and five bodies were recovered from the water within two hours. The Sea King was stood down in the early hours of Wednesday morning and the search was continued by coastguards and rig support vessels and lifeboats that had been in the area. They are concentrating on a five-mile radius of sea close to the rig although no wreckage from the helicopter has been spotted.

The Duty Rescue Controller at RAF Kinloss where the operation was co-ordinated, said the search continued on Wednesday under "near perfect conditions". He said: "We still have not found survivors and we fear that this points to a worst case scenario."
The two crew on board worked for Bristow, three of the passengers were Shell staff, three worked for engineering firm Amec and two for Amec subcontractors. The remaining passenger was from Oil Field Medical Services.

17th Jul 2002, 10:08
Let's get this in proportion.
Bristow has temporarily suspended all their helicopter flights to and from the rigs in the southern North Sea.

The Sikorsky S76 has an excellent safety record.

17th Jul 2002, 10:27
Thanks mod!..
It was somehow what unclear to me.

17th Jul 2002, 11:06
I've been asked to post a photograph of an S-76 for the benefit of Ppruners who are not familiar with various helicopter types.


The photograph is of an Offshore/Utility model.

In its more familiar 'executive' version, the Sikorsky S-76 is generally regarded as the 'Rolls Royce' of the corporate helicopter world. It is used, for example, by the UK Royal Flight.


Blue Rotor Ronin
17th Jul 2002, 12:13
What a terrible loss, this has hit hard. There's no point ranting at the papers, they will always speculate to accumulate, regardless of the effect it has on anything other than pennies for papers. My deepest sympathies to the crew and passengers loved ones.

Wayne Jenkins
17th Jul 2002, 12:31
I know I speak for all my collegues downunder..........

This accident is not only tragic for the individuals affected, including all the loved ones and families, but for all involved in the Offshore and Helicopter Industry.

The S76 is indeed a mature and proven helicopter platform for such a demanding industry, and I am sure the authorities and company involved will establish the relevant causes in the fullness of time.

A sad day indeed for all.

17th Jul 2002, 13:13
A bad week for UK helicopters. The previous day the Portland Coastguard helo crashed and burned, although happily all the crew got out.

17th Jul 2002, 13:33
Comments below from RAF Sea King crew who arrived on scene shortly after accident. I appreciate there are those who think it crass to question the causes of such a tragedy without waiting months for the AAIB findings, however, I think it is only natural that we seek to discover answers and information from the professionals who share this forum. I also have to say I do not believe to call such an incident a "crash" is itself an exaggeration when by then we had five confirmed dead and many missing.
Just a personal point, but one thankfully this forum allows me to make.

Flight Lieutenant Paul Hopson - the pilot of the Sea King Mark 3A scrambled to
search for survivors - said today: "At this stage we cannot say what happened
but all the indications are of a major mechanical failure.

"As far as we were aware, there was no May Day call and certainly no
emergency beacons were activated, which suggest it happened very quickly."

Co-pilot Flight Lieutenant Steve Murkin said it was unlikely to have been a
controlled ditching and the crew would have had little time to escape.

He said: "As more and more information came, it looked like it must have been
something quite catastrophic. It was not a controlled ditching as we had hoped.

"It must have been something major because it sank quite quickly and nobody
got out.

"If it is a controlled ditching, as soon as the helicopter hits the water,
big flotation bags are inflated but there were none visible, so we do not know
if they were activated."

He added that the crew, including passengers, would have had survival and
escape training and would have been wearing specialist gear, enabling them to
survive in the water for hours.

In ordinary clothes, a person would be dead within an hour, he said.

The helicopter was scrambled at 7.50pm from Wattisham Airfield and arrived at
the crash scene, some 30 miles north east of Great Yarmouth, at about 8.30pm

On arrival, the crew saw a patch of oil and small debris covering an area just
200 yards across.

Boats which had arrived within seven minutes had already recovered five bodies
out of the 11 people on board.

Flt Lt Murkins said the visibility was good and the water was calm so if there
had been any survivors they would have been spotted easily.

"It was perfect conditions for searching. We could see everything on the
surface and it was quite evident there was nobody on the surface to rescue. The
biggest thing we saw was a seat cushion.

"Because there is always an outside chance of survivors, you keep looking.
But within an hour it was pretty clear we were not looking for survivors in this
case anyway.

"Given the speed at which the rescue agencies were on the scene, it is likely
some of the bodies will be found in the wreckage."

Following an intensive search along with 18 boats, the helicopter crew left
just before midnight.

An investigation will be carried out by the Air Accident Investigation Board,
part of the Civil Aviation Authority, said Flt Lt Hopson.

The wreckage will probably be recovered by specialist salvage units and form
part of the investigation to find out exactly what happened, he said.

slot misser
17th Jul 2002, 14:35
Witnesses on the rigs state there was an explosion seen prior to the a/c ditching.

These workers have just arrived at NWI so will no doubt be questioned by th AAIB.

God bless those who lost their lives and god bless their families.

17th Jul 2002, 14:55
Anybody know who the crew were yet? e-mail to me if you do not wish to post publicly yet, please. I have an old mate who was last heard of flying that type from that base. Discretion promised.

18th Jul 2002, 13:10
Very sad and sorry for all involved, but very proud of all you PPRuNes.:(

This has to be the most adult of accident reports and comments that I've seen so far - quotations yes - but not a single attempt at a theory or a speculation. And that from people who could speculate until the cows came home. I for one am proud of you for that.

Heliport they and you deserve a 6 striper for this.

19th Jul 2002, 02:00
The names of the victims of this accident have been released. From Shell UK (http://www.shell.co.uk) (the crew are listed at the end):

The names of the 5 men whose bodies have been recovered and identified are:

- Stuart Coggon (45), from Middlesbrough.
Draughtsman with Amec Offshore Development.

- Philip George Stone, (53), from Norwich.
Senior Engineer with Amec Offshore Development.

- Kevin John Taylor, (50), from Norwich.
Technician with Amec Offshore Development.

- Denis Andrew Kelleher, (40), from Lancashire.
Medic with Oilfield Medical Services.

- Angus MacArthur, (38), from Dingwall.
Surveyor with Hi-Cad Technical.

The names of the 6 additional men who were on board are:

- Geoffrey Bispham (51), from Norfolk.
Operations Supervisor with Shell Expro.

- David Christopher Graves, (33), from Suffolk.
Operations Technician with Shell Expro.

- Douglas Paul Learwood, (40), from Middlesbrough.
Instrument Technician with Shell Expro.

- Paul Leo Francis, (48), from Norfolk.
Technician with Industrial Controls.

- Phillip Mark Wake, (42), from Norwich.
Captain with Bristow Helicopters Ltd.

- Phillip James Dearden, (32), from Norwich.
First Officer with Bristow helicopters Ltd.


I grew up in the Yarmouth area, and have friends and family members working in the North Sea industry, including one who flies for Bristows.
My thoughts go out to the families of the victims, and everyone else touched by this accident.

21st Jul 2002, 13:26
My cousin is the first named in the list of victims.

Can any one close to the operation give me any more info as to what went wrong?

21st Jul 2002, 16:38
Sorry to hear of your personal connection with the tragedy.

The suspicion, and it's no more than that, based on the limited facts available at the moment is that there was a major mechanical failure which happened so quickly that the crew had no time to ditch or make any Mayday calls. The S-76 has a well-proven safety record and there is at the moment nothing to cast doubt on the safety of the design.

This thread was copied from the Rotorheads Forum a few days ago, and there are now two threads running simultaneously.
I suggest you follow the one on Rotorheads because that's more likely to carry informed comments by experts when more information becomes available.
According to Rotorheads, the helicopter has now been located and there are three bodies inside. Three more are still missing.

21st Jul 2002, 19:08
At the time of writing, all but one of the people on board have been recovered.

RV6, I'm truly sorry for your loss (sorry if that sounds tacky - I couldn't think of another way of phrasing it).

I've spent the last few days moping around because I lost 2 mates in the tragedy, it's only dawned on me today that 11 famlilies have lost a lot more, concentrates the mind somewhat.

What has really stuck in my throat is the number of "aviation experts" who have come out of the woodwork. Particularly an former employee of Bristows main opposition, who now works at Norwich for the providers of the Police/Ambulance Helicopter services. He was quite happy to be photographed and provide the local paper with an "expert opinion" as to the cause of the crash.

:mad: Crass and totally thoughtless.:mad:

22nd Jul 2002, 19:31
I have only just heard about this tragic incident, as I have been away in the middle east. As someone who works in the oil industry on and offshore may I add my condolences to the families of my fellow workers and the two flight crew.

A very sad time for the industry.

I would also like to thank everyone for the proffessional reporting of this incident, It could so easily have been me or one of my friends involved.

24th Jul 2002, 16:37
Rotor fracture caused crash according to DoT report. No evidence of pilot error. Should be
running on news wires.