Scottish oil worker on board missing Air France flight

AN engineer from Renfrewshire is among the passengers feared dead after an Air France jet disappeared over the Atlantic, it was revealed today.

Breaking news: Air France flight wreckage discovered

Graham Gardner, 52, from Gourock, was travelling back to Europe from Brazil on board the Airbus A330 when it vanished yesterday.

Mr Gardner was master of the Lochnagar, a pipelaying and construction vessel operated by Aberdeen-based Subsea 7.

His wife Joyce, 51, said: "I have known Graham for as long as I can remember. He's such a loving, caring and laid-back man. Nothing fazed him."

Mrs Gardner, a human resources co-ordinator with a Greenock-based firm, added: "Graham was very supportive and always there for me when I needed him.

"Although we don't have children, he was very much a family man and loved playing with all the children in our extended family. He was just a big kid at heart.

"I'm sure I can speak for everyone that knew him – whether family, friend or colleague – in saying that he will be missed, dearly."

The couple, who had known each other since they were children, grew up in neighbouring streets and both attended Greenock High School.

But it was another 10 years before they became a couple. They got married in September 2001 at Greenock Register Office.

Mrs Gardner said: "On leaving school Graham studied at Glasgow College of Nautical Studies and many years later graduated as a Master Mariner.

"Graham has been in the Merchant Navy all his adult life and travelled all round the world on vessels ranging from ferries to tankers and container ships.

"He had spent the last four years in Brazil and only earlier this year was promoted to Master of pipe-laying vessel the Lochnagar.

"Graham was on a month-on, month-off contract so the time we had together was precious. He loved to walk, read science fiction novels and tend to his pride and joy... his tropical fish."

He was one of five Britons on board the Air France Airbus A330 flying from Rio de Janeiro to Paris.

The search for evidence of what happened to the stricken plane was continuing today.

Mr Gardner joined Subsea 7 in July 1998 and has served on several Subsea 7 vessels as First Officer and Chief Officer.

He was promoted to Master of the Lochnagar in February.

Mel Fitzgerald, chief executive of Subsea 7, said: "Our immediate priority is to provide support to Graham's family and his colleagues during this very difficult time.

"Graham is a well-respected and highly regarded employee of Subsea 7 who has made a valuable contribution to the company over many years. Our deepest thoughts are with his family."

Mr Gardner is also survived by his mother, Sarah.