19 people rescued from North Sea as helicopter carrying oil workers makes 'controlled ditching'


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The Independent Online

An investigation is underway after 19 people were today rescued when a helicopter carrying oil workers made a “controlled ditching” in the North Sea.

No one was injured in the drama – the fourth such incident to happen in three years off the Scottish coast - which happened in calm conditions 32 miles south west of Shetland at around 3.30pm.

The Super Puma EC225 aircraft being operated on behalf of oil giant Total was on its way from Aberdeen to the West Phoenix drilling rig when it was forced to make an emergency landing in the water.

Three RNLI lifeboats were dispatched along with Coastguard Search and Rescue helicopter while a vessel in the area launched its fast rescue craft.

A spokesman for flight operators CHC Helicopter said that 17 passengers and two crew members were taken aboard the ship, Nord Nightingale, and were waiting to be taken back to shore.

“The appropriate authorities have been informed and a full investigation will be undertaken to determine the cause of the incident,” he added.

Jake Molloy, from the RMT union, said the latest incident would cause concern among workers required to take the flights off shore. “I think what's absolutely vital now is to get communications out to reassure the workforce and their families, that their means of transportation to and from their work is safe,” he said.

In May, all 14 people on board a Super Puma EC225 were rescued when their helicopter came down off the coast of Aberdeen.

However, 16 people died when a Super Puma plunged into the sea in 2009. Its gearbox failed while returning from the BP Miller platform off the Aberdeenshire coast.

Six weeks earlier another Bond Super Puma with 18 people survived when their craft ditched in the North Sea.