Typhoon Gay, also known as the Kavali Cyclone of 1989, was a small but powerful tropical cyclone that caused more than 800 fatalities in and around the Gulf of Thailand in November 1989.
The typhoon's rapid development took hundreds of vessels in the Gulf of Thailand by surprise, leading to 275 offshore fatalities. Of these, 91 occurred after an oil drilling ship, the Seacrest, capsized amid 6–11 m (20–36 ft) swells.
The DS Seacrest
On 3 November 1989, the five-inch drill pipe had reached a depth of 3,707 feet. The rig had been in the tropical storm since the Tuesday, 31 October electric logging was performed. The superintendent ignored storm warnings, saying, "There hasn't been a typhoon for 50 years in the Gulf of Thailand, so keep working". There was 12,500 ft of drill-pipe in the derrick and the rig was out of survey since the top-drive had been installed. The superintendent's report stated that winds and seas increased at approximately 01:00 on the day of the capsize. The increasing severity of the weather forced the rig workers to hang the drill pipe in the hole on the lower rams. It was determined from the morning report that drilling activities ceased around midnight. By 03:00 the drill pipe in the hole was hanging on the lower rams. The rig workers, however, did not have time to lay down the 90 foot lengths of drill pipe that remained in the derrick.
On 3 November 1989, the Seacrest capsized in Unocal's Platong gas field during the passage Typhoon Gay. Seacrest had a crew of 97 at the time of the incident. Six survived. The cause of the capsize is attributed to the ship's unseaworthiness as well as the severe weather conditions encountered by the ship during the storm. Contrary to industry custom and practice, Unocal did not have a standby vessel tending to the Seacrest at the time she capsized, so the crewmen in the water were carried away by the typhoon and the loss of the ship went unnoticed until a helicopter found it floating upside down some four miles from its last location the next day, 4 November. No survivors were found at that time.
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