On 26th December 1987, a fire occurred in the engine room of "Safe Regalia", a ship in a North Sea oil field, leaving two divers in the welding habitat at the seafloor. Following the rescue, a Siebe diving knife was suitably engraved.
At exactly 03.00 on 22nd December 1986, oil production started on Gullfaks Alpha (A) in the North Sea. Gullfaks A is situated in the southwestern part of this oil field, and the first of three platforms to be installed. The idea was that Gullfaks A would primarily process the oil (separate water and sand out of the product) and then store it.
Just over one year later, there was an incident on a ship in this sector.
The following statement is from the Norwegian Petroleum Directorate Annual Report 1987 (Page 85).
"On 26th December 1987, a fire occurred in the engine room of "Safe Regalia". The fire had the effect that five of the six available thrusters which keep the vessel in position fell out. In the course of this incident, communication with two divers in the welding habitat at the seafloor (at 137 m / 449 ft) was disrupted for short periods.
When the situation was brought under control, communications were reestablished, and another diving vessel, "Sta Dive", was solicited for assisting in the rescue of the two divers that remained on the seabed. The divers were quickly brought up to the diving vessel "Sta Dive".
At the time George Porter was a Diving Supervisor in the Gullfaks A field. He oversaw the "through water transfer" and successful recovery of the two divers. On 16th June 2016, Porter described what happened in the North Sea that day to BBC Radio Solent. (This interview is only available for 30 days).
Engraved diving knife
Following the rescue, a Siebe diving knife was suitably engraved. It was never awarded, until now. And it is all because one man has a passion for sporrans.
Ian Taylor collects regimental sporrans. About 20 years ago he visited a sporran maker's shop in Scotland and noticed what he thought was the butt end of two Siebe knives on a shelf behind the shop counter. He asked to see what they were. And they were indeed two Siebe knives. Both were engraved. One said 'John Porter' and the second said 'George Porter'. Ian was suitably intrigued. Taylor has spent the last two decades looking for these divers, to reunite them with their knives.
He discovered that George Porter was the Diving Supervisor for whom the knife was intended. It seems that the engraver accidentally inscribed John Porter on one of the knives. When the error was discovered another knife was engraved with George's name on it, but by that time it may have been too late to award the knife. How the knives ended up in a sporran maker's shop is a complete mystery.
On 16th June Ian Taylor and George Porter were invited to the Diving Museum in Gosport, England, where George was presented with the knife.