Hedgehog Knits

Adventures in knitting from the eastern edge of Canada.

Friday, March 13, 2009


There's been a huge tragedy in the waters just offshore this week. While Newfoundlanders have always been a seafaring people, and tragedies at sea have a long history here, this is different.

The helicopter that went down yesterday morning was carrying 18 workers to offshore oil platforms. While one survivor was rescued, another has died, and 16 people are still missing and presumed lost. Though we were starting to think that spring was on the way, the temperature plummeted to -19C today with wind chill, as if a stark reminder of how unpleasant a place the North Atlantic can be in March.

Our oil industry is still young - the first commercial crude was produced in 1997 at Hibernia, and only two other fields are currently in production. But in those 12 years of permanent offshore installations and daily helicopter trips to the rigs, the safety record has been remarkably good.

St. John's is a small city, and the oil industry here is even smaller. Although I have never had to travel offshore, I work in this field. Many of my co-workers travel offshore regularly. While I am very fortunate that this tragedy has not affected my family directly, I have friends and co-workers who will have lost colleagues and friends. So many people have been visibly shaken by this, and it has been strangely ominous to sit in a downtown office building reading about the search efforts on various news sites, while occasionally looking up to see a search helicopter coming in overhead from across the harbour.

I'll be keeping those 17 families in my thoughts over the course of this weekend, as they live through some of the hardest days of their lives, and as the recovery operations continue offshore.

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

You know, I was just lecturing to my kidlets last month about Newfoundland and how the decline of cod fishing has left the door open for new industry like oil, but it never even crossed my mind to think about the everyday safety of either operation. I hope those 16 guys are found, I can't imagine what it's like for the 1 who did come back.

8:55 a.m.  
Blogger Marianne said...

***heart aches***

10:37 a.m.  

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