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Luke Rupping, Kuwait, 2014

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Association    301

I was in contact with some of the SA divers after this incident. Seems Luke Rupping's wife was pregnant at the time of his death, so they did not want to create any problems for her getting compensation, so kept quiet about details.

 

Very sad all round.

 

Edit: Luke Rupping's wife had just suffered a miscarriage before his death, so this was a double tragedy for her.

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Association    301

The following letter has been sent by the wife of Luke Rupping in the hope of getting closure for herself and her daughter. She has asked that the Divers Association publish the letter and Annexures.

 

The letter has not been edited or corrected in any way.

 

Quote

 

TO WHOM IT MAY CONCERN

 

BACKGROUND

On the afternoon of January 23, 1991, the Amuriyah, an 82,000-tonne Iraqi oil tanker sunk near Bubiyan Island off the coast of Iraq during Operation Desert Storm. In 2014 it was decided the tanker needed to be removed because it was within the tanker turning circle of a proposed mooring point at Iraq’s Al Basrah Oil Terminal, through which 97percent of Iraq’s crude oil is exported. The sunken vessel is blocking construction of a vital mooring point for the export of crude oil from SMP-5.

Oil sales make up 95 percent of Iraqi government revenues, so anything – such as a sunken ship – that blocks additional oil exports must be removed. On the afternoon of January 23, 1991, the Amuriyah, an 82,000-tonne Iraqi oil tanker sunk near Bubiyan Island off the coast of Iraq during Operation Desert Storm. In 2014 it was decided the tanker needed to be removed. To remove the tanker, the 285 meter long hull needed to be cut up into manageable pieces.

 

 

Please allow me to formally introduce myself. My name is Wilma Rupping, the wife of my late husband, Luke Rupping. Luke passed away on the 26/27 April 2014.  It has taken me a long time to muster up the energy to get to this point. A week before my husband passed away I had just dealt with the miscarriage of our second child. I appreciate the fact that Mamoet gave me flowers and a card to ease my pain and the cold phone call I received from Andre Bekker, Luke’s Senior Dive Supervisor at the time. However, this does not provide me the answers I need for my 10-year-old daughter and for myself. I have been trying, in a very diplomatic manner to get information pertaining to this incident but to no avail. Now, after almost 32 months, I’m ready to search for answers in order to get closure and in order to move on. 

 

APLLICATION/RECRUITMENT

Luke applied for a position as a diver for which he was very well qualified (See his divers medical form (Annex 1 - Page 1-13), as well as the Mamoet salvage investigation report paragraph “Finding” (Annex 2 – Page 14-15) and who lived for diving. His job was his passion. Mamoet found him fit for service and his ticket and visa was booked by Mamoet, Ms. Marcha van Biezen on 07 April 2014. (Annex 3 - flight ticket page 16-23, and Annex 4 – Kuwait visa page 24).    

I spoke to my husband 10 minutes before he was supposed to dive and he assured me that he will call me back after the dive.  The next call I received was with the tragic news from his Supervisor, Mr. Andre Bekker.   My whole world fell apart.  I requested my sister and mother to act on my behalf to get some information on the incident and to do the needed arrangements as I was in not state of mind to handle the administration and arrangements myself.   

After numerous requests to get information from Andre the Senior Dive Supervisor and crew members which turned out fruitless as the divers who were supposed to be friends of my husband were told by Andre not to talk to the family members on any circumstances surrounding the incident. A very shady thing to do and a clear sign of disrespect to the family. At no point was I ever contacted by Mamoet management in Schiedam, the Government of Kuwait to look in or to see if my daughter and I are coping.

During the request to get my private insurances in South Africa paid out some documents were requested from the company “Mamoet” in order for the private insurance company to investigate before paying out the insurance.  In no instance were any documents formally provided to me regarding the accident and all documents in my possession were intercepted through my South African insurance company. The following documents and discussions will be described below:

 

MAMOET SALVAGE INVESTIGATION FATAL INCIDENT DURING WRECK REMOVAL VLCC” AMURIYAH”

During the process to get the South African private insurance paid out the following investigation report without a date and without any signature was received. 

The report indicated that the Standard P&I Club London as well as explosive experts REASeuro were used to investigate the circumstances. (Annex 2 – Page 14-15 - Mamoet salvage Investigation report paragraph 3)

Nine divers including the salvage master were interviewed. (Annex 2 – Page 14-15 - Mamoet salvage Investigation report paragraph 3)

The report indicated and found my husband as part of the team to be qualified and experienced with a long history of salvage dives. (Annex 2 – Page 14, Mamoet salvage Investigation report paragraph “Findings”)

The report indicated that Schiedam finalized the investigation report on 13 June 2014. (Annex 2 – Page 14 paragraph one, sentence one.).  In Annex 2, paragraph 6 – findings, page 14 it also said “The fatal explosion is most probably caused by a gas or oil bubble below deck”

 

DEFINTION

Probably - easy to believe on the basis of available evidence

 

The possibility that the cause of accident could be due to some other factors can therefore not be ruled out for example (no proper briefing according to SOP’s, no proper handing taking over from previous diver, no proper inspection etc.).

Seen that my husband was a trained, experienced diver and as mentioned in the investigation report that Brocco cutting method is the most common technique used in salvage operation, I find it difficult to belief that this was the most probable cause of his death.

In my mind I believe that an explosion should have left him with injuries yet in the report it stated that the explosion left no damage to the diving equipment or the property or vessels in the vicinity yet it took the life of my husband? It is difficult to understand that diving equipment with extremely delegate instrumentation was not affected by the explosion, yet the explosive was so intense that it was mentioned by the paramedic in his fatal incident report (Annex 5 – page 25 paragraph one) that while inside the hospital he heard a loud noise and I quote “it sounded like someone had dropped a piece of equipment from the 1st story onto the deck outside of the hospital”.

In the recommendation paragraph of the report (Annex 2, page 15 –Recommendation) it says and I quote “This confirms the necessity of an extended risk and mitigation management programme”.  The same was recommended to Mamoet.  Does this mean that there was no risk management plan in place? If so, it is a clear violation of any programme manager to operate without a risk and mitigation plan in place. In my clear mind all risk and mitigation should have been in place before hand. 

 

Request 

I respectfully request the following:

                        Why was the ship crew told not to talk the family regarding the incident?

A copy of the Standard P&I Club London as well as explosive experts REASeuro investigation report and findings,

Copies of the investigation/interviews of the nine divers including the salvage master,

A copy of Mamoet as well as the ship standing (operational) orders,

The security risk management plan and mitigation from the contractor as well as Mamoet

 

FATAL INCIDENT REPORT BY DARVIN BIN ROZALI

According to Mr. Darvin Bin Rozali, the paramedic on scene, the incident occurred at approximately 16:30hrs, on 26 April 2014, while he was attending to another diver Mr. Bart Sijs inside the hospital (Annex 5 – Fatal Incident report - page 25, paragraph 1).

The on duty dive supervisor Mr. Theunis Swanepoel updated him, the paramedic on the situation.  The senior dive supervisor, Andre Bekker entered the control room and requested Mr.  Darvin (paramedic) to step out of the control room in order to get a full incident report from Mr. Theunis Swanepoel who was the dive supervisor on duty, at the time of the incident.

 

Request

I respectfully request the following answers/documents:

Was the senior supervisor not supposed to be present on the deck or the control room to monitor the diving activities?

What was wrong with Mr. Bart Sijs as it is mentioned in the report that the paramedic was busy treating him when the incident occurred– was there any relation(s) between the illness of the technician and the incident? 

I’m of the believe that apart from this paramedic report Andre as well as Mr. Theunis gave an incident report and I would like to have copies of that.

Copy of the policy/procedure to be followed in case of diving accident/incident.

Copy of procedure of reporting in case of diving incident/accident.

My question why was it needed for the paramedic to leave the control room, why could he not stayed for an update/brief from Mr. Theunis  as all information is essential for saving lives. 

 

STANFORD MARINE L.L.C DECK LOG BOOK FOR 26/27 APRIL 2014

I requested the divers log which was forwarded to me through Andre Bekker which is an unreadable/unclear copy (Annex 6 – page 26-27).  The log covered a period from 00:01 to 2359hrs.  As a former military member working duties in an operational room it clearly indicated that a minute to minute log should be kept of who, what, where, when and how everything happened.  This log unclear as it is did not indicate any time, date when my husband was taken out of the water, which assisted, and update information on what happened.  It clearly stated day to day activities. The copy is not clear enough to make a full assessment from it.

Reportedly the incident occurred at around 1630 and no indication of that was made according to the deck log which I would presume should be standard procedures. 

The log for the 27 April indicated that they arrived at Kuwait Harbor on 27 April 0615hrs.

 

Request

I respectfully request the following answers/documents:

A clear copy of the log sheet,

What actions were taken, by whom, by date time group,

Who was informed, when, (Communications, C2 (Command and Control))

And if there is another log apart from this one with DTG, I would like to have a copy.       

 

DEATH CERTIFICATE

His documentation including the death certificate was forwarded to me in Arabic and translation was needed by an approved language Bureau in order for the South African Insurance to pay out (Annex 7 – page 29-35).  This turned out to be a logistical nightmare and my mother had to fly to Kuwait to meet with one of her office colleagues in order to get the documents translated at an approved translation bureau.  (Annex 12- page 45-50)After the translation Andre manage to forward another set of translated documentation to me and the insurance company.

The cause of death indicated sudden heart stop and Respiration (Annex 7 – page 29) while the Mamoet Salvage report (Annex 2- page 14, paragraph one, sentence two) refer to as fatal injuries which have medically a total different meaning.

The death certificate (Annex 7 –page 29) also refers to a letter of criminal evidence dated 21 May 2014? – The future, how is that possible?

The date of death on the certificate is indicated as 27 April 2014 (Annex 7 – page 29) although Mamoet report (Annex 2 –Page 14) it indicates the incident occurred on 26 April 2014.

These reports are contradicting, so what really happened?

The Kuwait Department of criminal Evidence issued an amended cause of death certificate dated 21 May 2016 after they issued an original death certificate on 28 April with a different cause of death. (Annex 8 – page 36-37).

Mamoet investigation report indicated that they completed their investigation on 13 June 2014 as fatal due to explosion contradicting the death certificate saying acute sudden heart stop.

 

Request

I respectfully request the following answers/documents:

Could it be that the incident occurred on the 27th and not on 26 as per the log sheet as I could not see any reporting regarding the incident in the log of 26 April.  The only indication in the log sheet was recorded on 27 early morning when the ship went ashore to Kuwait harbor?

Could it be that the cause of death was changed for some unknown reason only known to those on the ship thus the reason for the shipmates not allowed talking to the family?

Explain why are there so many contradictions in the different reports regarding the dates and cause of death.

 

IMPORTATION OF HUMAN REMAINS

DIRCO the South African Embassy in Kuwait also forwarded the importation of the body document to us. (Annex 9 – Page 39). 

 

CONTRACT

During this time of grief I requested a copy of Luke’s contract in order to see what it states regarding the company responsibility toward me and my daughter regarding benefits (pension, policy, insurance etc.).  Till today I have not received any copy of the contract as per my request.  Andre provided a copy of the contract to the South African insurance company without copying me in the email or providing a copy to me.

My mother kindly requested a copy from the insurance company but to no avail.

Request

I respectfully request the following answers / documents:

A signed copy of Luke’s contract with Mamoet as well as the contract with Andre Bekker.

 

COMPANY MAMOET LIFE INSURANCE POLICY AND BENEFITS

During numerous requests to Andre regarding payment of the Mamoet company life insurance and benefits to me, I was told by Andre that there is no insurance as they are contractors and should have their own private insurances.  (See Annex 10 – page 39-40, email trails to Mamoet on different dates till 22 January 2016 as well as Annex 13, page 51-55). This is very strange that an international well known off-shore company like Mamoet working in a high risk environment not providing their staff/contractors with any benefits and or insurance.

After sending numerous emails, trying to obtain answers to my questions. I waited in anticipation. I feel that Mammoet and Andre Bekker have a Social Responsibility to honour where they owe a duty of care to their employees and “others” that might be affected by their processes.

On several occasions we, my mother wrote to Mamoet directly regarding assistance/information with the payment of the company insurance and for assistance but without any feedback.  I’m well aware that they did receive and read the emails as the return reports indicated it as “received and read” (Annex 11 – page 41-44). I have also request from Andre for assistance with contact details of Mamoet in Schiedam which he never provided. See different emails on different occasions forwarded to Mamoet salvage. (Annex 15 - page 61-70) Page 65 clearly indicated that they Mamoet Salvage received and read the mails as indicated on the return receipts.

On 20 January 2016, Andre sent me an email saying that he was contacted by his client (Mamoet) regarding insurance that we still try to claim.  Andre told us that the company already paid R250 000-00.  This money was paid by Andre out of his personal account into mine and I quote him saying this will help till your insurances paid out.  This is R250 000-00 that he paid over to my account.  (See Annex 14 – page 56-60) where he confirms this in an email. As according to him there was no insurance from him or Mamoet as they were contractors. Annex 14 page 60 D also indicated the amount that he paid into my account.

 

Request

I respectfully request the following answers/documents:

A signed copy of the insurance company that this policy was held with/contractor.

Copies of all the signatures on the policy that was paid out.

Why was there not one single form to be signed or filled by me in order for the policy to pay out?

Which company dealt with this policy?

What was the policy number, who handled this policy and in whose name was this policy?

 

SALARY PAYMENT

During inquiries made to Andre regarding the payment of Luke’s final month salary which was long overdue, Andre told us he is working on it. (Annex 14 pages 56-60). Later on 15 may he informed us that the salary will be paid out soon.  On the 15th May Andre requested my banking details in order to transfer some money to my account till I get Luke’s salary.  (Annex 14 pages 56-60). 

On 15th the same day we requested to know from Andre where this money will come from and the amount. Andre informs us that this is his own money and it will help her till she received the money from Luke’s contract. Ria requested his bank details in order to pay the money back as soon as she received the money from Luke’s private insurance and he told Ria that he is not in a hurry for the money (Annex 14 page 56)

It was also requested from Andre to provide us with his bank particulars in order to pay back the money as soon as she receives Luke’s salary which he did and also mentioned he is not in a hurry for the money. An amount of R250 000-00 was paid into my account. (See Receipt of payment Annex 14 page 60D).

 

IMCA

I belief that an independent company which was IMCA, also did an investigation and could not find anything wrong with the dive equipment which led me to belief that the operational procedures were not properly followed.  I also obtained credible information that the diver before Luke was supposed to of burnt vent holes but hadn’t done it correctly. Luke being the next diver was to do the cut with the assurance that there were vent holes burnt in place which then led to the explosion. I know what sort of pressure the guys can be under but it is the supervisor or person not known who should have ensure that these were in place and done before the next diver went down who happened to be my husband.

 

Request

I respectfully request the following answers/documents:

I strongly request that M-Crew provide me a copy of the IMCA report and the conclusion. 

 

OTHER CORRESPONDENCE

Due to my frustration trying to get answers, on simple things since 13 May till now (Annex 16 –pages 71-75), Mamoet and M-Crew left me no choice but to go somewhere else for assistance.  I resorted to other alternatives by writing to Bobby Delise – Dive lawyers and Scott Mclemore Law firm and others, who is more than wiling to assist me to get clarity to close this chapter of my life.   

 

CONCLUSION  

I feel it my right to get this information as soon as possible and sincerely trust that you will assist me now better than before.  I’m now in a mental state to face the issue in order to get clarity.  I will still appreciate all the help from you as Luke was not only a colleague but a friend of many of the crew for many years and I feel it is the right thing to assist me as  I will leave no stone unturned till I’m satisfied with the answers and documents. 

I now respectfully request Mamoet and M-Crew to provide me the following documents which is standard operating procedures onboard ships before, during and after diving as well as all the answers to, and the documents as requested in each heading mentioned in the document:

·      Permit to dive,

·      Dive log for Luke (a readable printed copy)

·      Dive log of previous diver, “did the previous diver confirm to the supervisor that sufficient vent holes were burnt to proceed with cut for the following diver?”

·      Daily Report “should confirm the dive conditions for the day”

·      Signed Risk Assessment

·      Signed Mitigation measures

·      Signed Method Statement

·      Signed Toolbox talk for the day

·      Pre Dive Checklists

·      CCTV footage of the dive, “is there a as left survey of the “sufficient” vent holes burnt from the previous diver and did the supervisor confirm?”

·      Luke’s (M-Crew) contract signed and what it states regarding injuries or fatalities

·      Luke’s (Mamoet)  contract signed and what it states regarding injuries or fatalities

·      Lessons Learned form, if one was filled out?!

·      The Voice recording of the dive, “confirmation of vent holes burnt by previous diver and supervisor confirming that he is satisfied.”

·      CCTV footage of the dive before Luke. As well as the dive of Luke.

·      Maintenance and inspection records on dive equipment

·      IMCA investigation report

·      Copy of Mamoet Safety Management Plan (SMS)

·      Copy of M-Crew Safety management Plan

·      A copy of the Standard P&I Club London as well as explosive experts REASeuro investigation report and findings,

·      Copies of the investigation/interviews of the nine divers including the salvage master,

·      A copy of Mamoet as well as the ship standing (operational) orders,

·      The security risk management plan and mitigation measures and lastly

·      I need the confidentiality contract signed, Andre Bekker, sub-contractors or client and why has there been no transparency in the findings of this accident.

·      Copies of the signed insurance that is mentioned by M-Crew

 

Yours Aye,

Wilma Strydom-Rupping

 

ANNEXURES

Annex 1                     Pages  1-13                             Dive medicals

Annex 2                     Pages 14-15                           Mamoet salvage Investigation report

Annex 3                     Pages 16-23                           Flight Ticket from Mamoet Schiedam

Annex 4                     Page 24                                  Visa for Kuwait (Arabic)

Annex 5                     Pages 25-26                           Paramedic Report

Annex 6                     Pages 27-28                           Stanford marine Deck Log

Annex 7                     Pages 29-35                           Death Certificate (Arabic, English)

Annex 8                     Pages 36-37               Amended cause of death (Arabic, English)

Annex 9                     Page 38                      Importation of Human remains certificate

Annex 10                   Pages 39-40                           Email regarding company insurance

Annex 11                   Pages 41-44                           Email to Mamoet regarding insurance

Annex 12                   Pages 45-50               Request for translation of doc’s (Embassy and  

                                                                        Colleague)

Annex 13                   Pages 51-55               Email regarding insurance and receipt of

                                                                        Money paid to me)

Annex 14                   Page 56-60D              Emails regarding insurance

Annex 15                   Pages 61-70               Requesting assistance from Mamoet

Annex 16                   Pages 71-75               FB Conversations between Wilma and staff

                                                                        From M-Crew

Annex 17                   Pages 76-78               Emails Dive lawyers and McLemore Lawyers

 

 

With the letter were the following attachments, listed as Annexes:

 

Annex 1.pdf

Annex 2-3.pdf

Annex 4-6.pdf

Annex 7-9.pdf

Annex 10-12.pdf

Annex 13-14.pdf

Annex 15.pdf

Annex 16.pdf

Annex 17.pdf


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Hal Lomax    580

I am not 100% sure on this, but I believe I heard just recently that Mamoet had ceased operations. If that is indeed the case, there unfortunately may be no further information to be obtained, unless we can persuade the diver's "friends" to come forward and tell the truth. This looks to me like a huge ass-covering exercise. This diver should never have been sent in to cut (with Broco or any other exothermic cutting gear) until the compartment was thoroughly ventilated and purged of possible accumulated hydrogen gas. As far as I am concerned, the company and the supervisor demonstrated gross incompetence, and should be legally liable for damages.

 

 

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John Joly    124

If Mrs. Rupping has engaged Delise  - or any other attorney - she has a good chance of getting her answers. The timing will be a negative aspect, I'm sure, although she has had SOME monies sent to her. I smell a rat when the Supervisor says it was his personal money he sent. This sounds very much like Mammoet is trying to insert a layer of plausible denial into the situation...

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John Roat    921
On 11/5/2016 at 1:28 PM, Hal Lomax said:

I am not 100% sure on this, but I believe I heard just recently that Mamoet had ceased operations. If that is indeed the case, there unfortunately may be no further information to be obtained, unless we can persuade the diver's "friends" to come forward and tell the truth. This looks to me like a huge ass-covering exercise. This diver should never have been sent in to cut (with Broco or any other exothermic cutting gear) until the compartment was thoroughly ventilated and purged of possible accumulated hydrogen gas. As far as I am concerned, the company and the supervisor demonstrated gross incompetence, and should be legally liable for damages.

 

 

This is their web page talking it say theyhave contracts https://www.mammoet.com/en/news/

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Hal Lomax    580

Looks like they are definitely still in business. I can't understand how a company like this can kill a diver and just shut their eyes and go on about business. They know that the only way to stop these stupid accidents from happening is to come forth with details, yet they circle the wagons and cover everything up. So the next time when the same thing happens, these people are equally at fault. Then I have to wonder - where is IMCA in this? Why did they not investigate and release findings to avoid a repeat of this?

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