Worker feared for life in Storm Babet North Sea helicopter evacuation

Ian McIntyre was one of 45 workers airlifted from the Stena Spey platform during Storm Babet on Saturday.

An offshore worker airlifted from a platform in the North Sea during Storm Babet feared for his life in what he described as a “horrendous” helicopter evacuation operation.

Coastguard helicopters were called upon to move non-essential workers from the Stena Spey to neighbouring platforms and to Sumburgh on the Shetland Islands after four of the eight anchors detached themselves in “severe weather” on Saturday.

However, with the helicopter unable to land due to the extreme conditions, 45 members staff were winched off the rig.

Ian McIntyre described the moment he was “smashed” into the side of a helicopter suffering a neck injury, and said the organisation of the rescue was “absolutely horrendous”.

“It was absolutely horrendous, we didn’t know what was happening,” he told STV News.

“We were told at eight o’clock in the morning that the choppers were ready to go to the Coastguard. We shouldn’t have been on board that rig when the storm hit. They knew the weather was coming in.

“And because we’d lost the the life raft two days prior, we were all inside. We weren’t allowed to go outside.

“It was horrendous not knowing, the Wi-Fi and phones were cut off. We couldn’t contact out families. We only had each other to speak to.

“We were told we’re getting evacuated and we’re going to be winched off because the Coastguard couldn’t land due to the weather conditions and the rig moving so much.

“I then got smashed on the side of the helicopter. I then had to watch another seven personnel get winched on board and hold onto each other for fear of falling out of the helicopter. It was just absolutely horrendous.”

Stena Drilling confirmed all 89 employees manning the rig were accounted for during a roll-call held before the partial evacuation.

The company also confirmed it was conducting a full investigation into the incident including a review of the response to the emergency.

A spokesman said: “We are very grateful that all the crew members and contract staff on board the Stena Spey are safe, despite the serious weather event last Saturday causing four of the anchor points maintaining station of the platform to detach.

“We commend the work of the helicopters of the Coastguard for their outstanding efforts to evacuate some 45 non – essential personnel from the vessel. Also, the support services provided.

“The company will be undertaking a full investigation into the incident, which will include a review of all safety matters and the response to the emergency.

“We have a policy of not commenting on individual concerns, as we believe these should be kept private between the parties.”

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