The workers rescued from the North Sea should not have got more than their feet wet, according to a survival training instructor.
Having gone through a “textbook” ditching, they would have followed their training to step from the helicopter into a liferaft deployed from a case attached to its side.
Duncan Scott, team leader survival at Maersk Training in Portlethen, said that depending on how quickly the incident unfolded and how much warning was given, the passengers would have made checks on their “transit” survival suits. They would then have tightened their buckles and got into a brace position ready for impact.
“If it happened quickly it would have been a matter of ‘brace for impact’,” he said.
“On impact with the water they would have more than likely deployed their emergency breathing system (a device they use to breath if submerged) and located their exit and harness release, essentially preparing themselves for what could be a submerging or capsizing, the worst-case scenario.”
Once on the water airbags would inflate to keep the helicopter stable and the pilot would deploy a liferaft, he said. The hope is the passengers can then step out of the emergency exit into the liferaft.
“Once inside the liferaft they would close it up, activate the emergency locator beacon and make sure everyone was OK,” said Mr Scott.
“Depending on the situation and weather, they would cut themselves free from the helicopter.
“Sea sickness tablets could also be handed out.” Mr Scott said the safety procedure would actually have started before the chopper began its journey.
First of all, those on board would have gone through three days of safety training – the Basic Offshore Safety Induction and Training, which has to be refreshed every four years, including the sea survival and helicopter underwater escape training modules.
Then, on the day of travel, they would have had a briefing before boarding, including on any procedures specific to the aircraft. Any first-time fliers would also have to wear a green arm band.