ESVAGT saves 46 from capsizing rig

On the night of August 21, 1990, ‘Esvagt Omega’ and ‘Esvagt Protector’ picked up 46 crew members from the capsized rig ‘West Gamma’ in a full gale force storm.

“I remember seeing a seaman strolling through Esbjerg a few days after that rescue operation. He walked proudly; head held high. And he should”
Former ESVAGT CEO Hans Ole Andersen

Whilst on tow in the North Sea on the night of August 21, 1990, the accommodation rig ‘West Gamma’ hit a full gale force storm and lost its tow.

Nearby, ‘Esvagt Omega’ was released from her standby duties at the Danish Dan Field and ‘Esvagt Protector’ was released from the Gorm Field to go to assistance. Upon arrival, the ESVAGT crew met a heavily damaged rig. The gale winds had ripped the rigs rescue boats of; the helideck was wrecked, and water were filling up the decks faster than the pumps could handle.

As the situation on ‘West Gamma’ deteriorated, it was decided to evacuate the rig. Tied up in groups of 5-6 persons, the crew jumped into the dark sea, where FRBs from ESVAGT waited. Guided by the helicopter’s searchlight, the ESVAGT crew picked up each group.

The FRB-crew from ‘Esvagt Omega’ entered the raging sea no less than seven times to evacuate people from the water, including crew from a capsized rescue boat from another company.

That night, all 51 ‘West Gamma’ crew members were saved, 46 by FRB’s from ESVAGT. No lives were lost.

ESVAGT A/S was awarded the “Leith International Conference – Offshore Safety Award 1991” for the rescue.

“I will never forget them”
The Norwegian radio telegraphist Laila Ausland Cock had spent 20 minutes in a frothing sea and had given up any hope of rescue when the ’Esvagt Protector’s crew found her.

“I was completely calm”
While the ’Esvagt Omega’ was saving the rig West Gamma’s offshore workers from the waves, Asbjørn Rislaa was lying in the water and admiring the professional rescue team at work.