Dismembered in 0.1 Seconds — Byford Dolphin Accident Explained
In the wake of the 2023 Titan implosion, another disaster of a similar flavour has returned to the fore: the Byford Dolphin accident in 1983.
Regarded as an astonishingly brutal industrial incident, the lives of four saturation divers working on a Norwegian oil rig perished in a horrifying instant — their blood flash-boiled as the dissolved gases in their bodies and bloodstreams expanded 9-fold.
They exploded from the inside out — quite literally.
It gets worse.
One of the poor chaps — violently blasted through a small hatch — was gruesomely torn to pieces, spraying the deck with gory torrent.
Like the five Titanic explorers, these five industrial workers from a generation earlier were victims of a catastrophic failure.
They were all very dead, very fast and in a very unpleasant manner.
In 1963, the first purpose-built drilling semi-submersible was launched.
These were essentially huge ships that could morph into oil and gas drilling platforms in the middle of the ocean. Ka-ching!
Our gripping tale centres on the Norwegian drilling rig Byford Dolphin — a state-of-the-art vessel built in 1974, with an impressive weight of 3,000 tonnes and a crew of 100. Armed with cutting-edge equipment, it was capable of drilling a staggering 6,100 meters (20,000 ft) deep.
The Byford boasted a small crew of four saturation divers that could perform maintenance work on the submersed part of the rig.
Operating at a depth of 80 metres (270 feet), these divers were subjected to 9 atmospheric pressure (atm) of ocean bearing down on them for weeks.