EPORT REGARDING DIVING FATALITY (ROB HOLBR00K), 12TH AUGUST 2009, ONBOARD SWIBER GLORIOUS, VIETSOVPETRO, VIETNAM BY DAVID CLEVERLEY, LEAD DIVER This report details basic sequence of events and does not lay blame or why it happened, but what happened. I dont want to assume anything.
On the 11th August, while lead diver on day shift we prepared the system for a gas bounce dive on He02 16% to 57 meters. The plan was to attach davitt 2 and 4 to the 8 pipeline for an add-on and subsequent installation of a stork-on riser, port side. A Norwegian buoy from the surface was attached davit 2 position where there was already a strop around the pipeline. A strop for davit 4 was already around the pipeline. A swim line for the diver from the wet bell clump weight to the Norwegian buoy rope with shackle was to be lowered after davitt 2 was run down on a tag line. A swim line was rigged between the two davitts.
Just before my shift ended I commented to one of the divers that the survey pole was not installed on the starboard stern, and assumed this would be placed later so the diver could take a transponder. The survey gear was already set up in the dive control. Subsequently found the survey crew had no idea what was required and there was a language problem. Lack of transponder positioning proved to be a mitigating factor.
There were many personnel problems on this project and a new supervisor was on the panel for Rob Holbrooks dive with the day shift supervisor in attendance. At this point around 20 dives had been performed, mostly on my shift, without incident.
A dive was then performed but the diver was unable to position the barge correctly, and decompressed in the chamber as normal. I cannot comment why he couldnt position the barge as I wasnt on shift.
Rob Holbrook then dived to position the barge and connect davit 4. He proceeded along the pipeline looking for davit 4 position while the barge moved forward approximately the length of the barge (90 meters?), but couldnt find the davit strop. Distance between davitts around 30-35 meters. The barge had reached the limit of its forward movement due to anchor positions, and the diver was well past the davit 4 position, which somehow he missed.
While heading back towards the bell along the pipeline his gas supply went and turned on his bailout. The diver said he could see the bell and was close but his umbilical was fouled, and pulled on it. This was when all communication, cameras, lights went dead.
The standby diver, who was relatively inexperienced was sent down in the standby LARS . This is where the stories vary, but I will try and make sense of it briefly.
Evidently not firmly established whether the standby diver initially found the diver in the bell or still on the bottom with no gas. Remember, there was no camera, the standby diver was panicking on helium and difficult to understand. The standby said he was putting his pneumo hose and the bell standby gas into the divers neck dam during the rescue at various times.
After some time the bell was on the way to the surface with both divers, when at one hundred feet the diver was pulled out of the bell and free falled to the seabed. The standby diver recovered the diver back to the bell.
While on the way to the surface for a second time the diver was again pulled out of the bell. Once the injured or dead diver was recovered back in the bell the standby diver went to the seabed and finally cleared the umbilical which had been caught at a D ring on seabed debris.
The force on the D ring caused it to slip along the umbilical thereby crimping the supply hose and damaging the camera/light cable.
At some point the standby diver was told to cut the umbilical. I saw the umbilical and apart from a few slices in the divers supply, not much progress had been made. He was told a hacksaw was already on the bell guide wire, but didnt use it. The standby divers bottom time was approx 40 minutes.
The divers bailout and onboard gas bottles were empty after the event.
When the diver arrived on the surface he was clearly dead but both divers were put in the chamber on a table 6 as no in water deco took place.
(1) If survey had been working the divers position in relation to the pipeline would have been known. Therefore, the barge would not have moved forward as far as it did.
(2) Lack of experience with respect to the standby diver.
(3) Was the barge still moving when it was found the divers umbilical was fouled? This is a grey area.
(4) Diver failed to follow his umbilical back to the bell when on bailout. An easy thing to say when not in that situation, but it is a contributing factor.