A few weeks after our bell incident, it was the turn to Tiny to have a big fright, as it was him now who was making the inspection dive.
As I explained earlier, these types of dives are mainly carrying out without any visibility but this didn’t bother us at all because we knew perfectly where to pass to join the different places we had to look for.
The check points were:
- The width - depth - and shape of the trench behind the claw.
- Control the position of the claw over the pipeline.
- Verify the position of the sledge.
- Give the angle of the pulling chain in front of the sledge.
So as you see a relatively easy job.
But as some of you know, the North Sea can be very rough, and this 19 September 76 there was again a very strong swell that could be felt in the bell.
Again, our bell went up and down several metres but since the incident, we had taken care to stay a little more away from the bottom, which allowed Tiny to start its inspection.
Everything went well until his arrival on the chain.
As you can imagine, the chain used to pull the 34 tons jet claw was not a common little chain, it was a good strong one with huge links.
So on this particular day, my mate Tiny decided for a reason only known by him, to move one of his hands through a link and what had to happen, happened.
His hand could pass it, but because of the movement caused by the swell he couldn't remove it back.
As I was the bellman, I could not hear what was said between him and the surface, but it was not difficult to imagine:
- Tiny: Surface I got a problem.
- Surf: What problem do you have Tiny?
- Tiny: Uh! Uh! Well, uh! I've put my hand through the chain and now I can’t remove it.
- Surf: WHAT! YOU STUPID BASTARD and can I ask you what we must do now?
- Tiny: Uh... I think that you should inform the bellman and ……prepare the oxy-arc torch.
- Surf: ARE YOU JOKING?
- Tiny: I don't think so .... because it hurts.
So after a few more profanities the supervisor passed the communication on the bell and made me aware of the situation.
He informed me that they were preparing to send the cutting gear down and asked me to prepare myself to intervene if necessary.
Fortunately, it wasn’t an emergency situation because the diver kept cool, but he just could not withdraw his fucking hand.
So I prepared myself, dropped the bellman's umbilical in the water and waited the order to leave the bell.
Then, fortunately for the diver, after one or two minutes, the pulling chain came up or went down a bit more and he could extract his hand without too much damage. She was just a bit scratched and swollen but that was it.
When he was back in the bell, we laughed a bit about the incident.
But when I told him (as seriously as I could) that if I had to intervene , the surface had decided for some economic reason to rather cut his hand than the chain, I could see in his eyes that he was not sure if I was joking or not.
Be always cautions where you put your hands