plattform had dissapared under 60 feet water.
James Bald,e welder of North Shield, Yorkshire said, ''I saw cracks looking like holes appering on the deck. They began to get bigger, up to four feet long and opened up with every movment of the sea. And then, - we had left the area by this time - the derrick, the drill floor and the radio room dissapared in the sea.''
''May Day'' Calls Sent Out
The rig had been sending out 'May-Day' calls but when the top structure was finally ripped away by the howling gale, radio contact with the rig was lost. Crew members then waited to see which way the 120 foot drilling derrick would fall.
Garreth Starrer 30, of Scarborough said, ''If it had fallen back on the rig, it would cut us in half and that would have been the end. It tottered
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but I had no difficulty in landing on the rig's 65-foot square helicopter pad. On board the rig, there
was no panic at all,'' Captain Balls said.
Captain Balls flew the copter with a minimum load of fuel in order to carry more than a full passenger load to the oil rig ''Constellation,'' which was drilling about 20 miles south of the ''Ocean Prince.'' On the first lift he transported 19 men. Usualy, the capasity of the Wessex 60 is 16. On the second trip he took 18 crewmen. The final trip, he flew eight men directly to Scarborough.
The weather was regarded as hazardous for helicopter flying. Flying of helicopters is normally limited to weather with winds up to 50 knots an hour (57 MPH).
'It Was Terrible'
George Mostun, tool pusher, from Lousiana, a key man on the ''Ocean Prince,'' said, ''I never
for a bit and finally fell into the sea.''
Derreck Smith, 46, a radio operator, of Westerbroom Drive, Edinbourg, sent out an emergency call to Humber Radio by remote control. ''The radio room was one of the first parts to go. I had to use a standby radio.'' he said.
Barry Race, 22, of Collingwood Street, South Shields said, ''I had not had any sleep sinse 6 a.m Tuesday. I had just finished a shift and got to bed when we were ordered out. I just had time
to throw on an ordinary leisure suit.''
Pilot Makes Rescue
Hero of the rescue effort was Capt. Robert Balls, 32, a former naval pilot who was allerted to remove the stranded crewmwn. Within 45 minutes after he was awakened at Scarborough Hotel at 6 a. m., he was piloting a Wessex 60 helicopter across the North Sea fighting gale winds 400 feet up.
''It was a bit unplesant,