Last week saw the twenty-fifth anniversary of the loss of the Ocean Ranger, a state-of-the-art (for its day) oil rig that was drilling in the Grand Banks, off Newfoundland.
On Valentine's Day, 1982, the Ranger was lashed by gale force winds and twenty-metre waves. Just after midnight, a chilling distress signal was heard by two nearby rigs announcing that the Ocean Ranger was taking on water and its crew of eighty-four men was heading for the lifeboats. It would be the last message ever heard from the platform.
Later that night, amidst the churning waves and bitter wind, the rig capsized and sank. Rescue boats dispatched from surrounding rigs and rescue helicopters reported seeing about twenty men in the water and a lifeboat that was carrying thirty-six more. But, to the horror of the rescuers, they couldn't get close to the survivors because of the high winds. By the time they were able to, it was too late. The lifeboat had capsized and the men, lacking the dry suits that are standard issue on today's rigs, had already succumbed to the -1C water.
It was Canada's worst maritime disaster since World War II.
For the wikipedia entry on the Ocean Ranger, click here.
For the CBC archive, click here.