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Mark Longstreath

Drillship Seacrest, Thailand, 1989

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Taken from a post on longstreath.com:

One of the drillers--Jesse (the Bean) Sandoval--that perished on the Seacrest was my next door neighbor in Pattaya at the time of the disaster. His Thai wife--Tick--was about six months pregnant at the time. She was shattered when she received the news and there was concern she might lose the baby. Several of the expat crew also lived in Pattaya. Some were on leave and others were onboard the ship.

Several weeks after the disaster a man from UNOCAL (now Chevron) offered a ridiculously low settlement to Tick (which she wisely refused). Just after that a representative from a Houston law firm arrived to meet with some of the victim's families. Myself and (I think) Malcolm W. and John H. attended a meeting between this gentleman and Tick. Mal and John spoke fluent Thai and helped translate anything that Tick didn't understand. The result of his visit was that Tick and many of the other victims families agreed to be represented by his firm. I lost his business card but I think he was with these guys: Tramonte & Associates. Houston, Texas, USA .

Tick was soon invited to live with Jesse's parents in Texas where she had a healthy baby. Eventually the lawsuit started and drug on and on for what seemed like an eternity. The final verdict was in favor of the plaintiffs and the settlement was much more than anyone (including the attorneys from both sides) was expecting. After the legal fees I (again, vaguely) recall each plaintiff received several million dollars. Of course, although this was many years ago, it didn't in any way, shape or form begin to compensate for the families tragic loss.

I found the following at this website: http://thaiwreckdiver.com/seacrest_drill_ship.htm

"The legal proceedings that followed the sinking are mentioned by UNOCAL's legal representatives at http://www.susmangodfrey.com/clientssay.html and at http://www.susmangodfrey.com/practice/practice_foreign.html "In Sandoval v. UNOCAL, our client UNOCAL owned the drill ship Seacrest which capsized during Typhoon Gay in the Gulf of Thailand in 1989. Plaintiffs representing over 90 decedents sued UNOCAL in Texas and throughout the world. Our lawyers were required to completely learn the Thai civil code in order to defend the case."

I believe this statement ^^^ might be in error as I thought Seacrest Drilling Company owned/operated the vessel and UNOCAL was the contractor. Whatever...

The following is a 124-page report prepared by Failure Analysis Associates®, Inc. in October 1990 (which may or may not be a whitewash to cover UNOCAL/Seacrest Drilling Company's ass--in light of Gunnar's post regarding the top drive unit).


Anyway, I hope the above contributes a bit more background regarding the Seacrest tragedy...

Cowboy Bob

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Interesting, Mark, the Failure Analysis Associates Report seems to 128 pages of 'scientific' justification for four statements:


  • Regardless of the top drive modifications, the vessel was stable and operating within limits when she sank
  • Typhoon 'Gay' was much, much more powerful than predicted
  • At the time she sank, the weather was too severe to successfully launch lifeboats
  • The SAR manual underestimated survivor drift and they spent a long time looking for survivors in the wrong place.

All in all, the tone is one of 'fit for purpose, just got caught in a severe storm nobody predicted', the effect of the drill pipe on deck is pretty much dismissed even though it caused them to list to port, there is no mention of the reports of the drill tower leaning and peeling up deck plate, just the vessel going side-on to the weather with one anchor and then rolling over, there is no mention of the actual reports of instability from the Captain/chief engineer.


I can't get the Susman Godfrey link to work, but from their website I guess they were Unocal's lawyers rather than representing the families of those killed.


I dunno, we aren't lawyers or marine investigators, and we aren't on a mission to cure the world's ills, all we wanted to find out was the details of the dive team and record them as industry fatalities rather than them being a lost and forgotten footnote in some anonymous filing cabinet.


The POB and names of those killed and the survivors must be a matter of public record in both the Thai and American legal systems, strange that such basic information can be buried so deep.


But thanks to Cowboy Bob, really good to have that report - a bit like "Into the Lion's Mouth' in that what is said - and not said - and how it is said - gives a chilling insight into the attitudes of 'the establishment' at the time.



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