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The Deepest Dive - Summary


It was called the inverted moon landing. The deepest work dives ever. It was the dive that would make Norway unimaginably rich. In retrospect, it was called a success. How was it possible when one died, one was injured and a third party as far as my life is preserved?





Published 20.10.2015, at. 2:16
- When a comrade dies, I can not call this a success, says diver Bryan Pittari.

- We were afraid. But we knew the job was important for Norway. So we went back down, said John Kohl.

Neither the police nor the Labour Inspection investigating the fatal accident, spoke with the nine American divers who survived.

- I did not believe what I saw in the Labour Inspectorate report. The cause of death was quite unlikely, says Jan Christian Warloe.

Over 30 years later NRK Brennpunkt found out what really happened at 320 meters depth in Skånevikfjord.
Politicians dream

Year was 1978. In the North Sea oil and gas well underway. Parliament had several years before decided that most would be landed in Norway, to create industries and jobs. But so far it had not been technically feasible to meet the parliamentary resolution.

A pipeline to cross the deep trench along the coast, called the Norwegian Trench.There was barely technology to lay pipes at such depths. Nobody in the world had the technology to repair them.
Parliament had therefore imposed Hydro and Statoil to find the technical solutions.

In a Norwegian fjord conducted ten Americans a dive that would ensure the future of Norway as an oil nation.  Something went terribly wrong.  John Kohl survived, but 30 years later he is still affected by what happened.
1:10
Video: Diver John Kohl tells of fatal dive.
Divers adventurousness
John Kohl was 25 years old at the time. He had volunteered to participate in a record dive.

- We had prepared ourselves for one year. Neither of us had been down at such depths before. Nobody in the world had worked at 320 meters depth, says Kohl.

- We got paid more, the deeper we went down. So I thought most of the money.

diver Bryan Pittari
Bryan Pittari was only 23 years old when he took part in a record dive in Skånevikfjord.PHOTO: CHRISTIAN KRÅKENES / NRK
Bryan Pittari was only 23 years. He had never done a saturation dive in the sea before. World record attempt in Norway would be his first:

- I volunteered. It was exciting to do something that no one else had done before, he says.
Both divers worked in Taylor Diving & Salvage. It was then the world's largest diving company with headquarters in New Orleans.

Oil companies plan
Hydro and Statoil cooperation on pipeline project. They had to prove that it was possible to add and repair pipes in the Norwegian Trench.

The plan was to make a realistic repair attempt 320 meters. American company that was the world leader in its field were engaged and planning went on for four years.
The experiment had to be successful to get oil and gas ashore in Norway.

In January 1978 the preparations were finished. Ten divers was commissioned to weld together pipes on the seabed. How the job was to be explained in this information video from 1978:

Produced by Infofilm Video as.  Used with permission from the Norwegian Petroleum Museum.
0:44
Video: Infofilm about Skånevik dive from 1978. Used with permission from the Norwegian Petroleum Museum.

On the bottom surface
Skånevikfjord between Bergen and Stavanger was selected as testbed. During the crossing from Rotterdam walked the ten divers in the pressure chamber. The pressure was gradually adjusted to the pressure of 320 meters.

Air was replaced with a gas mixture of helium and oxygen. The bodies were saturated with this gas. They were now in real terms at 320 m depth in a chamber on the deck.

Diving Bell would lead teams of three men down to the working sessions on the bottom, but the pressure was the same, whether they were in the pressure chamber on the deck or on the seabed.
It would take 11 days to bring their bodies back to normal pressure, so that they could come out.

- Like walking on the moon

- it was dark, deserted and stunning. To think that here no one has gone before.How will you be able to describe it? It was like walking on the moon, said John Kohl about the first trip out on the bottom.

- It was crazy. Just to imagine that you have so much water over you, telling Bryan Pittari.

But then he should start working with knocking loose concrete around a pipe came fear creeping.

- His heart was beating so fast, I'm sure it could be heard across the bay. After a little break, I got control, and then I could work on. But it was hard to work at these depths.

- We were tired just by breathing. It was like breathing something liquid. In addition came hard physical work, says John Kohl.

John Kohl
John Kohl was 25 when he volunteered for the record deep dive.PHOTO: PRIVATE
It starts to go wrong
early on the first shift failed communication between divers and supervisors on the barge. Then disappeared hot water that gave the divers warm in suits.

They would then return to the diving bell and wait for the error was rectified. The hot water came back, divers could go back into the water, but then disappeared heat again.

- It happened all the time. It was incredibly tiring. We had to stop work several times on each shift, says Kohl.

The problems with the hot water did not resolve. The pumps on deck unable to supply hot water stable down to the divers. It was too far down, and there was no spare pump on board.

Explosion underwater
7. February would Bryan Pittari down for the third time, together with his team.He was inside the tube in the welding chamber, and should clarify balloon inflation.

- I just heard a low sibilance. Instead rumbles it. The balloon is inflated in a tremendous speed, and explodes. I'm being tossed around in the tube, and know moisture all over his face.

gas meter
There was no one who watched the gas meter when the balloon would be inflated.PHOTO: CHRISTIAN KRÅKENES / NRK
Dive Buddy pulled him out of the tube. Bryan Pittari was severely bruised, and moisture in the face was blood. Ear drums had ruptured.

- I was completely dazed, and was helped back to the clock.

Bryan Pittari came up to the chamber on the deck, but he did not get medical help.A new team was going down at the bottom, before he could be examined.

death dive

The team that was sent down was John Kohl, David Hoover and Mike Cooke. It was John Kohl turn to creep into the tube. He would replace the exploded balloon with a new one, and then blow it up.

- The hot water disappeared several times. It took a long time to get on with the job. I eventually located a new balloon in the tube.

David Hoover stood outside the welding chamber to make sure it did not come too much gas in the balloon this time.

Khol and Hoover in welding chamber
John Kohl gave signal to David Hoover that everything was OK. Only then he noticed that the snake had become snagged.PHOTO: GRAPHICS: ROY HOVDEN / NRK
Stuck in the chamber
before disappearing into hot water again. The divers were told to stop work and return to the clock. John Kohl crawled out of the tube and David Hoover came with to see that he got out safely.

- He gave me the thumbs up, and I responded with a thumbs up. A signal that everything was okay. Dave left the welding chamber, and I was ready to follow suit. Then I discovered that my hose stuck in the hose to the balloon. I did not come loose.

John Kohl tried to wrap the hose. Urgency, for when hot water disappeared, it took very little time before the divers was seriously cool.

- I asked the dive leaders about getting cut tubing to balloon to get away. They said no. I was told to wrap me loose.

The air disappears
While John Kohl worked to get loose, get hot water back. The hose came loose, but now he lost all breathing gas.

- It happened in an instant. There was no gas in the mask. It was impossible to breathe, he said.
At the top of the welding chamber was gas, but it was not considered respirable.Still, it was the last chance.

- I tore off my mask. Took a deep drag. It went well. So I waited for the gas to come back.
After only two minutes a gas mask. He took it and began to move back counterclockwise.

John Kohl survived because there was gas in the chamber, he worked in
John Kohl survived because there was gas in the chamber where he workedPHOTO: GRAPHICS: ROY HOVDEN
Found buddy seabed
Out of welding chamber heard John Kohl that dive leaders called on David Hoover:
- Dave how are you? Dave, why do not you answer? I heard they were concerned.
John Kohl told to look. He followed hose to David Hoover, and found him at the bottom.

- I went to him in the foot, got flipped him, and I saw that right away. He was gone. He was not there long.

David Hoover
David Hoover died during a record dive in Skånevikfjord.Kona never got to know what was the reason for the death.PHOTO: PRIVATE
The long road back
John Kohl reporting, and started working on getting David Hoover back to watch.Kohl had to lug Hoover throughout creation framework and weld chamber. By diving bell was great difficulty in getting Hoover into.

They finally succeeded, and while the clock rose toward the surface gave John Kohl and Mike Cooke first aid.

- He had blood from the mouth and nose, but we met the test. We held on all the way up.
On the surface, David Hoover taken into the chamber on the deck, and a new gang continued resuscitation.

- I was not in on it. I was left in the watch and weep, says Kohl.
Shortly before midnight on February 7 was David Hoover pronounced dead. He was then decompressed and sent to Bergen for autopsy.

Skånevikfjord
NRK, MapBox, OpenStreetMap contributors
A deadly exemption
Labour Inspectorate had been aboard the barge constantly. The man who had the ultimate blame was ill, but a replacement was sent on board. He says to NRK that he only got to sit in the living room.
He therefore failed to problems with hot water, communication and gas supply.He confirms to NRK that he neither were joined by Bryan Pittari ruptured eardrums.

All incidents should lead to that the dive was stopped.

He did not know that the chief had given a mortal dispensation. Ragnar Winsnes had on behalf of the Labour Inspectorate followed the planning of the dive, and passed a safety manual.
The day before the fatal accident, he gave diving company exemption to drop the use of reserve air, contrary to safety procedures. Spare air could saved the lives of David Hoover.

Winsnes in Labour Inspectorate should now investigate the fatal accident, in parallel with the police.

Documentation tape that disappeared
sheriff in Etne came to barge same night. He brought with him diving doctor, Svein Eidsvik. They asked everyone involved write down explanations, also divers in the chamber.
In addition, they asked for access to documentation tape.

Svein Eidsvik
Diver Lege Svein Eidsvik died this summer, before the documentary was finished. The family has seen and approved the content of the movie.PHOTO: CHRISTIAN KRÅKENES / NRK
- It had disappeared. They said that they had forgotten to turn the tape. Then they said it was outplayed. And then they said that it was misplaced somewhere, and there was a fourth explanation too. It was a little strange, since it was the same person who gave all four explanations, explaining diving doctor Svein Eidsvik.

He remembers that they hesitated. But Eidsvik was only medical advisor, and had nothing to do with the investigation to do. Neither police or Arbeidstilsynet petitioned tape recordings disclosed and Labour Inspectorate explained this by saying that they intuitively trusted diving company.
NRK has set plans for the dive. In addition to the tape recordings were also made videos on two machines. None asked to see the video footage that was made of the dive.

An appropriate cause of death
David Hoover would be autopsied at the Gade Institute in Bergen. Diver Lege Svein Eidsvik would assist the coroner. But in addition there was a representative from Taylor Diving and a British pathologist, Dr. Ian Calder.

- I knew Dr. Calder. He was prestigious and bastant, Eidsvik says. He used to be with the diver autopsies, because he was doing research on ear canals.

The autopsy report
The autopsy report from Gades Institute foreclosed oxygen deficiency as the cause of death.
The autopsy was difficult. There was no one who had experience with autopsy died from such depths. In the autopsy report from the Gade Institute stated that the cause of death could not be determined with certainty. But the coroner wrote that they excluded the failure of the oxygen supply.

The official autopsy report was set aside in the Labour Inspectorate investigation.They chose a completely different cause of death; CO₂-poisoning.

The new explanation stemmed from dr. Ian Calder. According to Labour Inspectorate report he gave a strong indication that David Hoover died of CO₂ poisoning: Hoover wore beards, which meant that the mask was not close, CO₂ piling up, and he was poisoned by his own exhalations.

The death was thus self-inflicted. This was the official explanation of death in the investigation, even though it was contrary to the official autopsy report.

NRK checks who dr. Calder is. It turns out that his mission was to write an interpretation of the cause of death of Taylor Diving, for use in a possible lawsuit by the survivors. His interpretation was subsequently submitted to the claim between the Hoovers and Taylor Diving and dr. Calder testified that the cause of death was self-inflicted CO₂ poisoning.

new cause of death
Diving Company own doctor came up with a new cause of death, which was well
Splayed investigation
Labour Inspectorate concluded in its investigation that the death was due to CO₂ poisoning. They cited technical problems with the project, but said this did not have any connection with the death.
The sheriff in Etne was of a different opinion. He examined the progress, and review the logs he saw that there were problems with gas supply. He kept John Kohl's cuts in breathing gas to the time the death of David Hoover, and concluded that the gas cut was the cause of death.

If the death was caused by technical errors, could not dive to continue and the vast project to cross the Norwegian Trench had to be canceled.

But the sheriff did not interrogate anyone again, Labour Inspection gave Americans allowed to leave Norway before the investigation was concluded.

Terrified divers
- We heard that the cause of death was due to CO₂ poisoning. None of us believed it. All knew what I had experienced, said John Kohl.

But the explanation could dive proceed. Norwegian Hydro had withdrawn from the project. Labour Inspection gave dispensation to pick up the equipment from the bottom of the barge could return to Rotterdam.

- We knew it would not happen. We had been told that the diving project should be completed in Scotland, says John Kohl.

The divers remained under pressure while the barge went across the North Sea.Norwegian Hydro come on board, even though the project was officially halted.
In Scotland, all the equipment assembled before it was lowered down to 316 meters depth. The divers would now solely weld the pipes together.

Problems with hot water, communications and air continued. One by one, they refused to go down.

- We were afraid. Really scared. But we knew the job was important both for Norway and diving company. So we went back down, says Kohl.

They welded in several days, and then the job was done. The barge returned to Rotterdam. 44 days after they were pressurized to 320 meters, they came out again.

Was presented as successful
Just days after the dive was finished in Scotland came a press release, and it was referenced in a number of Norwegian media. Skånevik dive was a success.PHOTO: FACSIMILE
The case is dropped
A month after the divers were out of print, submitted sheriff in Etne and Arbeidstilsynet their investigations to Hordaland police and the public prosecutor.

They made no new investigations, took no new questioning. Prosecutors considered whom to trust, and concluded that the Labour Inspectorate had higher skills, and was most credible.

The death was dismissed, with the conclusion that David Hoover died of self-inflicted CO₂ poisoning. Neither the chief prosecutor or police investigator will comment on his work from 1978.

Norwegian divers protesting
But some reacted to the shelving of the case of the fatal accident. January Warloe was the time trade unionist.

- I was wary of Labour Inspection as investigators. I had been in klinsj with them before.
Warloe had also heard a rumor that divers dive without reserve air.

Warloe demanded access to the investigation documents. After repeated reminders, he read.

- I did not believe what I saw. It was not something that they dive without reserve air and cause of death was entirely improbable.

Along with Arne Jentoft he demanded the matter resumed. Prosecutions said no, but they got the matter for After The Investigation Commission of accidents in working life. The Commission should scrutinize Labour Inspectorate investigation.

Trestle and oats sack
After Investigation Committee consisting of the Director of Labour Inspection and two members of the Labour Inspection Board. They should report to the Board of Labour Inspection. And it was the Labour Inspection which was the subject of scrutiny.
- It was totally wild. Trestle and oat bag is too small, says Warloe.

He and Jentoft met for the committee and explained what they thought was wrong with the investigation. Same day two diver doctors inside and gave their views on the death. Then it was quiet.

- This was in 1979. I cry out for the final report, but was told that it was not finished. I nagged every year, but there was no report. In 1983 I left the union, and then I gave up, saying Warloe.

Official investigation report was changed

 


Norwegian authorities changed official investigation report by decisive attempt dives.  It displays documents NRK has gained access to.
0:46
Video: The investigation report following the fatal accident seems to be changed retrospectively.

Doctors point out the failure of the oxygen supply as possible cause
In the minutes of the doctors' explanation it is clear that they see cuts in the breathing gas as the most likely cause of death.PHOTO: SCREENSHOT FROM DOCTORS' EXPLANATION
First in 1989 Warloe hold of the report, which had been done since 1982.

The report exonerated Arbeidstilsynet of responsibility for the death. According After the review board died David Hoover of CO₂-poisoning, and exemption to dive without reserve air was unproblematic.

Doctors interviewed by the committee explained the report said that such spare air tanks would only lasted two seconds at 320 meters depth. It could not be salvaged David Hoover.
- This was the nonsense. I tried to speak, but no one would listen. It was passed 11 years since the accident, telling Warloe.

Misquoted in the report
NRK has obtained the minutes of the meetings of After Investigation Committee.

Jens Smith-Sivertsen
Doctor Jens Smith-Sivertsen denies that he has said the words of the investigation report.PHOTO: CHRISTIAN KRÅKENES / NRK
The doctors said that the accident could well have caused cuts in the breathing gas. It is the exact opposite of what they are cited in the report of After Investigation Committee. Jens Smith-Sivertsen was one of the doctors. He had experience from defense and oil companies. He is shocked when he sees what he is alleged to have said.

- This is uncanny. It says I never thought or said.

The minutes NRK Focal Point has gained access to show that the doctors never said anything about that spare air would only lasted two seconds and they are cited in the report. This section also seems to have been changed retrospectively.

Read the documents and compare:
- You can see that it has been manipulated. This had the writing, to absolve the Labour Inspection, says Warloe.

In conclusion there is a paragraph that seems to be added in retrospect, a sentence stating that the investigation has been satisfactory.

Concluded after the investigation team has changed
Also conclusion After the review board appears to be changed retrospectively.PHOTO: SCREEN SHOT FROM AFTER INVESTIGATION COMMISSION'S REPORT
- Nothing we found the
Head of After Investigation Committee was Børre Pettersen, who represented LO Board of Labour Inspection. Today he is the only remaining member of the committee.
As a leader, Pettersen was present at the meeting with the doctors, and he is also behind the final report. But he could not explain why doctors are quoted exact opposite of what they actually said.

- No, I do not remember anything. I can not explain it. But it's certainly not something we have invented in After Investigation Committee. It would have been reasonable stupid, says Pettersen.
When asked why doctors are assigned to an opinion about the duration of spare gas, when in fact they have not said a word about this according to the minutes, so can not Pettersen remember any of this.

- I do not know why it is there.

NRK has read Labour Inspectorate copy of the safety manual of planning the dive.Where it appears that spare gas would last for three minutes. In addition, NRK spoke with the man who made spare gas bottles. He also explains that they would last 2-3 minutes. Suffice David Hoover to save his life.
The report from After Investigation Committee was the last word in the matter of Skånevik dive.

The report from after the investigation team has clearly been changed
The report from After Investigation Committee states that spare air would only lasted for two seconds. This section seems to be changed retrospectively.PHOTO: SCREEN SHOT FROM AFTER INVESTIGATION COMMISSION'S REPORT
The most important was the Norwegian Trench
- All that was of a negative character was put lid on. It says former diver representative in Nopef, Arne Jentoft.

- The authorities would have oil and gas in the country, and had to get tubes of the deep Norwegian Trench. It was the most important thing.

January Warloe think the whole thing was desperate.

- They should at least investigate deaths properly, but they walked over corpses.

Death dive will be a success
only days after the dive was finished in Scotland came a press release, and it was referenced in a number of Norwegian media. Skånevik dive was a success.

And in the annual report to the Norwegian Petroleum Directorate from 1978 states that Skånevik dive was successful. The dive proved that it was possible to repair the pipes in the Norwegian Trench.
The summary of the project from Statoil and Norwegian Hydro, autumn 1978 stated that the repair was now possible.

In 1981, Parliament adopted building Statpipe, based on the existence of proven repair technology for pipes at depths down to 360 meters. The only repair attempt was then made at such depths in the world, was diving to 320 meters ten Skånevikfjord.

North Sea and trade unionist Jan Christian Warloe is distraught over how badly the fatal accident was being investigated.  Photo: Christian Kråkenes.
0:43
Video: Jan Christian Warloe despairs over poor investigation.
Unrealistic attempts
purpose of the dive was to make a realistic repair from beginning to end. But in Skånevik were divers never finished installing equipment and pipes. In Scotland, they made only a weld, the assembled equipment. There was no unified operation.

The experiment was done in calm water, the head of a fjord. It was essential to get the 250-ton equipment safely to the bottom. Such days are hardly any of the North Sea.
Onboard failed pumps for water heated suits for divers. Equipment fails to deliver steady heat 320 meters down. And communication equipment failed throughout the dive. And in addition, failed pump to breathe the gas.

NRK has undergone all logs and testimony. Before John Kohl tearing off his mask and David Hoover dies, failing pump which supplies gas to the divers. Pressure falls. In the explanations maintains gas operator that this was not life-threatening, but NRK has put forward all the data for diving experts at home and abroad, and asked them count.

All confirm that pressure was deadly low. It did not breathe the gas down to the divers, and David Hoover died.

- It was an experiment. And the technique was not able to cope with such deep, says Bryan Pittari.
He was pulled out and taken to hospital when the barge came to Scotland. When he had been in a daze for nearly two weeks.

John Kohl wants to be proud of the feat they did, but he has hardly talked about dive before NRK contact.

- Anyway, when I think about it, so come thoughts on Dave. How can you be proud, when a friend dies?

Norwegian Trench 
A dive for our wealth
Before After Investigation Committee was finished was the first pipeline, Prime Pipe, passed in Parliament. It was urgent. Oil production from Statfjord was underway, while gas was brought down in the penalty area.

This would shortly make the field volatile and lead to financial losses. A pipeline had to be in place by 1985. The adopted laid in 1981, on the grounds that it was technically possible to repair it.

In parallel with the laying of the Prime Pipe was conducted research dives on behalf of oil company at NUTEC in Bergen. The dives were to confirm the claim that the tubes could be repaired by divers at depths from 300 to 500 meters.

The experiments were prepared as successful, but the reports were confidential.Dives revealed unsolved problems with communication heat to divers and breathing gas. In addition, divers In all experiments dive sick.

At the end of the 80s were a number of medical research reports concluding that dives deeper than 180 meters entailed high risk of injuries to divers.
See the award winning Brennpunkt documentary "In deepest secrecy" about the consequences of forsøksdykkene 80s

In parliament, they continued to approve new pipelines. At 300 meters, 400 meters to 500 meters to 600 meters. All the grounds that it was technically proven that pipelines could be repaired in the bottom of the Norwegian Trench.

The justification stems from the only real labor dive that is done on repairing a pipeline in Norway. There are dive as ten Americans did in Skånevikfjord in 1978. A dive is being called a success.

In 2002 Statoil shall itself a diving ban beyond 180 meters . Only in 2015 they find a solution to repair the main pipeline at the bottom of the Norwegian Trench.According to Statoil, they have had emergency repairs until now, but it has been based on methods they have neither tested nor documented that works.

Norwegian authorities have never introduced a depth limitation of diving in Norwegian waters.

Dykkerskapets doctor has changed the meaning
NRK has also contacted Dr. Ian Calder. He assumes still mission as an expert witness. He has now changed his mind.

dr. Ian Calder
Dr. Ian Calder has changed perception of what went wrong in Skånevikfjord. But he has not told anyone before NRK contacted.PHOTO: CHRISTIAN KRÅKENES / NRK
- I do not think the longer that it was CO₂ poisoning. I realized pretty early on that it was wrong. I am convinced that there were cuts of breathing gas.

But he never took contact with someone to inform them about their wrong conclusion, although he was aware that his conclusion was based on the investigation in Norway.

- I did not stick your head up, says Dr. Calder.

In the US, David Hoover's three children all my life thought that John Kohl was to blame for his father's death. See the strong meeting between them in Brennpunkt documentary "The deepest dive."
NRK has had an agreement with the Labour Inspectorate for an interview since May this year. Labour Inspectorate has been submitted to all issues and journalistic findings and agreed to interview after the documentary.

Having seen the program before the interview they withdrew from the interview appointment and would rather comment on the documentary writing:

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