On February 15, 1982 at 0052 hours local time, a MAYDAY call was sent out from the Ocean Ranger, noting a severe list to the port side of the rig and requesting immediate assistance. This was the first communication from the Ocean Ranger identifying a major problem.
At 0130 hours local time, the Ocean Ranger transmitted its last message:
‘There will be no further radio communications from the Ocean Ranger. We are going to lifeboat stations’.
Shortly thereafter, in the middle of the night and in the midst of atrocious winter weather, the crew abandoned the rig.
All 84 crewmembers died. 56 were Newfoundlanders. Over the next four days search teams were only able to recover 22 bodies, 2 lifeboats, and 6 life rafts.
Families across Newfoundland and Labrador, struggled to cope with the loss. In every community in the province in every church, in every school people gathered to find comfort. At a crowded ecumenical service at the historic Basilica Cathedral in St. John’s, friends and relatives attended a memorial service to pay tribute and to search for answers. The Catholic Archbishop of the province surrounded by clergy from all churches used the occasion to call on both the federal and provincial governments to establish “a joint enquiry into the terrible accident”.
Recommended Archival Collection: Two new ‘Ocean Ranger” collections are now held at The Rooms. The David Boutcher Collection features photographs taken by David on the Ocean Ranger in 1982. Many of the photographs feature friends and fellow crew members. David died on the Ocean Ranger. Also available is the Lloyd Major Collection, Lloyd was a medic on the Ocean Ranger, his 52 photographs feature individuals who worked on “The Rig” and structural features of The Rig.
Note: Many of the individuals in these photographs have not been identified and we would welcome the assistance of families and friends of the victims to help us in this process
Recommended Book (Fiction): Moore, Lisa . February. House of Anansi Press (2010). February is a fictional exploration of the impact on one family of the 1982 sinking of the oil rig Ocean Ranger.
Recommended Book: (Non Fiction): Heffernan, Mike (2009). Rig: An Oral History of the Ocean Ranger Disaster, Creative Publishers, St. John’s. This is an illustrated collection of first-person accounts from former rig workers, victims’ families, government officials, media, and search and rescue crews.
Website: Royal Commission on the Ocean Ranger Marine Disaster: http://www.heritage.nf.ca/law/or_response.html