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1988: Disaster in the North Sea
The ill-maintained and overloaded North Sea oil rig Piper Alpha was destroyed in a fire which also killed scores of workers .

Leaking gas on the Occidental Oil drilling platform ignited late in the evening of 6 July 1988, causing a devastating blaze in which 167 of the 226 men on board perished.

Many of the oil workers leapt 100ft (30m) into the sea to escape the fire and toxic fumes, despite being told their jump would almost certainly be fatal.

It is still the world's worst-ever offshore oil disaster.

Your stories:

My grandad, Edward Crowden, died on the Piper Alpha in the explosion on the night of July 6th. To this day I remember the pain and turmoil my mum and aunties went through, although I was only four years old.

There is always a longing in my heart for him and I know that we all miss him so bad.

But he loved his job and his family - unfortunately he never got to meet all his grandchildren. I still have the last thing he ever gave me and I will never let it go.

I send my heart felt thoughts to everyone who lost someone that night because it should never have happened.
Amy Mcleod, UK

Although I was only a young boy (nine) when this disaster struck, I do remember the upset and stress that my father suffered. He worked as a offshore platform inspector and was doing a routine visit to Piper Alpha that day!

He was offered the choice to stay and sleep over that night to continue his work the following morning, but due to a backlog of paperwork and not having all the equipment he needed, he left Piper Alpha around 6pm that evening.

I feel very lucky that my father did not lose his life that night but I know he suffered very badly from depression after the event.
A Lee, England

I worked on the Piper Alpha for a period spanning five years, during its construction and up to full production.

One of the original Offshore Installation Managers (OIM), Clyde Bradley, eventually asked for a transfer. He couldn't get to sleep at night as he was convinced that one day the rig would blow.

I was of a similar opinion and left early in '82. Some friends were still there when it blew. I'll always remember them.
Peter Usher, England

I worked on the Piper Alpha in my days on the rigs. I was on the drill deck and Piper A was my first rig. I will never forget it, as it was and looked a mess. My sleeping room was directly below the helideck.

I left the drilling company contracted to Piper Alpha but was contacted by them later and asked to work for them again with the promise of promotion, better pay and an immediate start.

I considered the offer and asked where the job was. "Piper Alpha" was the reply. I rejected the offer. A few days later the tragedy struck. How lucky I was.

My heartfelt feelings go to all the families and friends of those who perished, some of which I knew and worked with.
Howard Forster, Austria

I know one of the lawyers who worked on getting compensation for the families, but when you read of memories like the two Michelles and Jodie, below, you know that money doesn't compensate.

I lost my own dad at a young age too, and that belief that "he's on an island somewhere" is more common than you'd think.
Euan, Carnoustie, Scotland

My dad was one of the 167 men that lost their lives on the Piper Alpha.

I was only 13 at the time and a true "daddy's girl". Losing my dad was the worst thing that has ever happened to me and to this day I miss him terribly.

For many years I thought that he might have survived and be living somewhere on a remote Scottish island. Sounds silly, but that way I didn't have to think that he'd never be coming home.

My life has a vacant space in it that no-one will ever fill. My heart definitely belongs to daddy.
Michelle, UK

My dad, Andy Mochan, survived the horror that was Piper Alpha. Sadly, he died on 2 April this year (2004). The sense of loss I feel is immense. I have, however, taken solace from the fact that my father came home after 6 July 1988. I have 16 extra years of memories.

My dad lived with the terrible burden that he survived whilst others perished. His legacy to the oil industry is the campaigning he did at every available opportunity to improve safety on the rigs and in work places in general.

His spirit will live on in Aberdeen as his remains were cast in the Piper Alpha memorial gardens and in the North Sea. My thoughts are with everyone who was blighted by Piper Alpha.
Helen Becker, France

I was working in the Computer Room at Occidental's head office in Aberdeen when the blast occurred. Just half an hour before I was talking to one of the guys who didn't make it about a problem they were having with a printer. I remember his voice to this day but can't remember his name.

The whole night shift was taken up with making sure that we had all systems running to assist in the rescue effort. The pictures we saw in the morning were so devastating that I didn't sleep at all that day and into the next night.

The whole of Aberdeen was in shock but everybody pulled together and made sure that the families of those affected weren't left wanting. I only wish that I could remember the guy's name who I was speaking to half an hour before he died.
Victor Ward, Canada

On 7 July 1988 I was seven years old, and on that day my life changed dramatically. When I woke up, hearing voices downstairs, my mum came upstairs to tell me about an accident which had happened the night before.

My daddy died on the Piper Alpha oil rig disaster in the accommodation deck, of smoke inhalation. I was seven, and didn't understand what my mum meant when she said my dad was missing and presumed dead.

For the next seven years I convinced myself that the body that was brought home to us was not my dad. My dad had amnesia and was living on an island somewhere where I would find him, eventually!

When I turned 14 and my dad had been gone for half my life, I realised that he was not coming home. I cried and cried, because it took half my life before I realised that he was really dead.

My brother never got over losing his dad, and after struggling with drug addiction, he hung himself in the year 2001. My sister was very brave and after accepting her own denial, she is now a wonderful wife and mother to four beautiful children.

My mum remained single for nine years until she met her current husband. As for me, I'm myself. I feel like I always have been and always will be. I am the strong one in my family, which is ironic considering I'm the youngest, but I am the tree on which all my family lean, and I love being able to help them.
Jodie Noble, Scotland

Being brought up in Aberdeen I know so many people whose lives have been changed due to this tragedy. A few of my friends had dads, uncles, brothers, etc who died on that horrible day. Thankfully my father survived the disaster, which so many people in this city say was Aberdeen's blackest day.
Ryan C, UK

I cannot begin to imagine the distress this would have caused to the families of the men who worked on the Piper Alpha. I was only 14 at the time and could only watch in horror at the disaster which unfolded in front of us.

I now have a partner who works in this environment and constantly worry about him whilst working offshore. I only hope that all health and safety checks are carried out regularly so this never happens to families like myself again.
Helen, UK

I was a shop steward on the West Soul gas field. We resigned en masse from this field two days after the disaster. I was interviewed on the BBC World service on the day of us all leaving the installation - 500 of us to be precise.

I knew a lot of the guys that died - five from my home town of Greenock. I don't know what to do with my pain from this time, I still fight tooth and nail but to no avail. All that happens is I get the boot. I wish people could get it - no job is worth dying for.
Kenny Kilday, Canada

My dad died on the oil rig a month before my first birthday. My mum was left alone with me and my older brother who was four at the time.

I feel so sorry for my mum, being a single parent for so many years, I just wish that my dad (Michael Scorgie) was with us now, but I know that's not possible. I think the worst thing is, my dad was supposed be coming home that day but he stayed on because my mum and dad were saving up to go on holiday as a family.

I just hope that other people who knew someone involved with the Piper Alpha, managed to get their life back on track like my mum. I wish I had known my dad too.
Michelle Scorgie, Scotland

I was only seven years old when the Piper Alpha disaster happened. I can still remember vividly the pictures on television and hearing that many men had died in the accident.

Two boys I went to school with lost their fathers on the Piper alpha, and the entire community I lived in reeled from the horror of what happened.

I now, like many other Scotsmen, work offshore in the north sea. Safety standards have indeed dramatically improved since that dark day and thankfully, a similar incident has never occurred.

I will continue to enjoy working offshore, as long as the safety of everyone on board is of paramount importance, Its a shame we had to lose so many, to have the standards we have today.
Gary Hay, Scotland

I'm a son of a Piper Alpha survivor.

Fortunately, I was too young to remember the events at the time (16 now and nearly 17), but the accident has moulded me into the person I am now.

My "old man" was David Kinrade, the radio officer who sent out the mayday. Being based in the radio room, near the helipad, he was left one way out and that was to jump, which he did.

This has impaired his ability to throw a rugby ball or kick a football around with me in the back garden.

He still has nightmares and has trouble sleeping at night, which leaves him in a state of shock when he wakes.

I'm sure it still affects many generations of those who perished and survived to this day. Such a tragic loss that should never ever be repeated.
C Kinrade, Isle of Man, British Isles

At the time of this disaster I was 11-years-old and my best friend's father was an offshore oil rig worker. On the morning of July 7 1988 when I awoke, my mother asked me what oil rig Steve's dad worked on because there had been an explosion through the night.

Immediately, a feeling I've never experienced since came over me. Somehow, although I didn't know what platform Steve's dad worked on, I had a gut feeling that he was on the one that exploded. I found out later in the day that my instincts were correct.

The pain and sorrow for everyone involved was tangible and although Wullie is gone, he'll never be forgotten.
Brian, Dundee, Scotland

I worked on Piper Alpha as a Petroleum Chemist in 1978-1979. When the disaster happened I had moved to Shell and worked on the Cormorant Alpha. My wife took many calls from friends and family who worried that it was Piper I still worked on.

I have worked for 26 years now in the oil industry and ever since the disaster I have always acted to improve safety awareness offshore as a safety rep and latterly safety officer.

I challenge all safety infringements and take great care to check all isolations are correct.The North Sea became safer after Piper but there is no room for complacency.....

In June 2005 I was working on an oil platform called Holstein in the Gulf Of Mexico and attended a safety briefing which started with a video of the Piper Disaster so the oil industry continues to remember and learn from what happened.

I still visit the memorial in Aberdeen and am filled with sadness everytime I read through the names.
Charlie Hind, Scotland

I am currently in a psychology human factors class and recently been studying the Piper Alpha disaster. We have been looking at all errors that lead to the disaster and today's advancements in human factors to prevent it from happening.

Men and women on rigs today must speak up about people who do not follow procedure because the big guys don't care as long as the rigs keep pumping. Employees must be aware for the potential hazards waiting for the right situation.

Because of the disaster, many psychologists have chosen to go into fields that study human error and organizational disasters. It was a horrible disaster and could have been prevented, and that is the saddest part.
Lee-Anne Wade, student studying Piper Alpha

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Piper Alpha on fire
The blaze started after leaking gas ignited


Piper Alpha after the disaster
The platform was completely destroyed by the fire

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