Piper Alpha rescue ship captain dies aged 60

The North Sea Piper Alpha oil rig off the coast of Aberdeen after it caught fire. Picture: PA
The North Sea Piper Alpha oil rig off the coast of Aberdeen after it caught fire. Picture: PA
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THE captain of a ship who steered his vessel into the aftermath of the Piper Alpha disaster has died.

Sean Ennis was the skipper of the Sandhaven, which was among the first vessels on the scene after the oil platform exploded 110 miles north east of Aberdeen in July 1988.

The ship dispatched a rescue craft to save workers who had jumped into the sea.

The boat rescued six men from the North Sea, but was overcome by flames when the second gas line ruptured. Two crew members and all those rescued lost their lives.

Just days after the disaster, Captain Ennis was called on to return to sea, and was sent straight back to the platform to work for an oil company.

He told a journalist nearly two decades after the disaster: “If I had known I was going back there I would have asked for something else. It was a nightmare, but you just have to get on with things.”

A total of 167 men died in the disaster, and Captain Ennis was awarded a commendation for bravery in 1990. Three of his crew were given the George Medal posthumously.

He moved to South Shields were he met Lynda, and they married in 2002.

Captain Ennis died of heart failure at his home on February 18.

Mrs Ennis told the Hull Daily Mail: “Sean always wanted to help people and was a leader of men. He would always put other people before himself. He will be sorely missed by me and his stepchildren Jamie and Gillian.”

Captain Ennis appeared in the 2013 BBC Two documentary Fire in the Night, written by The Scotsman’s Stephen McGinty.


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