The 30th anniversary of one of the North Sea’s worst oil disasters will be marked next week.
More than 120 workers died when their semi-submersible accommodation rig collapsed during gales in the Ekofisk field on March 27, 1980.
A massive wave hit one of the legs of the rig, the Alexander Kielland, causing it to break and send the 208 people on board into the sea at around 6.30pm.
Some were able to make it to lifeboats before the platform capsized, while others were thrown into the sea as the rig began to tilt.
Most of those who lost their lives on the 10,000-tonne flotel, which was situated around 200 miles east of Dundee, were Norwegian. There were some Britons and Americans aboard, and many were in the rig's cinema at the time of the disaster.
Survivor Terry Lister, 70, of Hull, said last night memories come flooding back every year on March 27. “I was sitting in one of the back rows of the picture house and there was a loud bang. I remember it vividly,” he said.
“There were soon some more and then the lights went out. It was just chaos. Because the rig had gone over, gear came hurtling through, leaving people trapped. I can remember the bodies as well. It was the evening but there was still some daylight and I could see this little square light, which was an exit. It was only because I was in the back row that I was able to get out.”
He escaped into the water and got on to a lifeboat. It was the next morning when a helicopter crew rescued him.
RAF and Norwegian helicopters, and an RAF Nimrod were involved in the operation, which was hindered by the poor weather conditions.
The death toll was 123.
A previously undetected crack in one leg of the rig, which was sitting next to the Edda production platform, is thought to be the reason the structure gave way. Experts believe it took 15 minutes for the rig to collapse into the sea. It was not until 1983 that it was salvaged.
One consequence was the tightening of command organisation on installations in the North Sea, to establish a source of authority for ordering abandonment. The 14 minutes between initial leg failure and eventual capsize left a window in which most of the personnel on board could have escaped.