Key Takeaways: I no longer care to get my diver's license.
On November 5, 1983, a diver exploded when his pressurized chamber was prematurely released, sending the atmospheric pressure (atm) from 9atm to 1atm instantaneous. This gruesome event, known as the 'Byford Dolphin Accident', has been a horrific lesson in diver safety ever since.
The Byford Dolphin Accident is no doubt one of the most gruesome events of the century and it goes to show the sheer importance of implementing proper safety procedures.
According to The Observer, the diving bell (then pressurized at 9atm) became disconnected from the decompression chamber (a chamber which gradually reduces pressure experienced by the divers).
Ultimately, a "loose nut" is to blame for the deaths of 5 individuals, 3 British and 2 Norwegian men.
The diving bell, carrying two divers, had been raised to the surface from 300 ft and "mated" with the decompression chamber. 4 divers died immediately after "gasses boiled" inside of their blood, rupturing vessels. The 5th diver was rushed to the hospital but was proclaimed dead on arrival.
The sole survivor, the 6th man, claimed to Mr Per Rosengren, the head of Norwegian Inspectorate's diving section, that his partner had unscrewed the nut that resulted in the technical failure.
Saturation divers working at depths this deep could experience mental fatigue, among other ailments. This fatigued coupled with the faulty communication system within the rig may have been the prime culprit behind the accident.
Scooped Off The Deck
Even the spinal column and most of the ribs had been expelled.
Diver 4 experienced the worst of the trauma and after looking at his remains, we can say with confidence that he did not suffer. His death was instantaneous and extremely violent.
In fact, while divers 1-3 were sent to the autopsy lab in full body bags, diver arrived in 4 separate bags.
According to the official autopsy of Diver 4, the "locality was such that parts of him may been blown straight into the sea."
The report also reads, "Diver 4 was shot out through the opening and completely disintegrated. They found parts of him scattered about the rig. One part was even found lying on the derrick, 10m above the chambers!"
For instance, the spinal column "and most of the ribs" were found lying around the deck. Also, the liver had been found "somewhere" on the deck"
The doctors remark that "the fate of diver 4 clearly shows the tremendous force released in an accident like this."
The soft tissue of Diver 4's face is exposed.
Diver 4's pelvis was had been divided into 3 parts, one of which contained a segment of the small bowel. The man's penis was present, but had been invaginated, which means it was flipped inside out.
Looking from above, one could see down through the larynx and see that all the thoracic and abdominal organs had been expelled.
The midsection of Diver 4 was completely destroyed. Look closely and find a rib bone.
They also performed autopsies on divers 1, 2, and 3. Since these men weren't near the point pressure release area, their bodies were left intact, although dead.
The organs, including their brains were filled with gas and free-fat was found in several unusual places.
The brains of divers 1,2, and 3, were filled with gasses. The autopsy details that this gas resembles "butter on a frying pan."
This is the stomach* of Diver 3.
Inside the cardiac chambers gasses and free fat can be found.
The fat found inside the arteries was mixed with gas bubbles and "looked like sizzling butter in a frying pan."
This is Diver 4... well what's left of him.
Surely a lot was learned from the tragedy on the Byford Dolphin. We also learned the power of nature's physics. To sum everything up, one doctor remarked, "the fate of diver 4 clearly demonstrates the tremendous force released in an accident like this."