Orion

Rig:

Orion Jack-up

Date:

01 February 1978

Location:

Guernsey, UK

Summary

A drilling jack-up built for Transocean, the Orion was one of the first jack-ups to operate in the North Sea in the 1960s. In early 1978, the rig was loaded and welded onto a barge with the intention of re-locating it from Rotterdam to Brazil via the English Channel. During a storm on the night of 01 February 1978, the rig's towlines parted and forced the rig onto Guernsey's Grandes Rocques, with 33 crew members still on board.

Evacuation of the crew took place on 02 Feb 1978, with two crew members initially extracted by lifeboat before conditions necessitated the use of helicopters. A further 24 crew were evacuated by chopper, before the air operation had to cease as a result of the rig spinning on the rocks in the stormy seas. Two crew were also extracted by 'breeches buoy' - a form of zipline utilising a lifebuoy - and one crewman was catapulted into the stormy seas before being rescued. The rig was later salvaged at the end of February 1978 after a month-long operation which involved pumping compressed air into the hull of the rig and pulling the Orion free of the stranded barge beneath the rig.

Sources:

The Times (UK): 03 Feb 1978 'Rig crew saved'
The Times (UK): 11 Feb 1978 'Salvage men taken off rig as gales end refloating operation'
The Times (UK): 01 Mar 1978 'Oil rig free'
Island Life: Guernsey Wrecks
Transocean Inc: History

Photos
1. Channel Online Gallery