A Posthumous George Medal for the 1988 Piper Alpha Disaster
A Emotive George Medal for the 1988 Piper Alpha Disaster; QEII (BRIAN PHILIP BATCHELOR). Naming is engraved. Original ribbon, extremely fine. In its hardshelled case of issue, marked "GEORGE MEDAL" on the lid, maker marked "ROYAL MINT" on the inside lid, lightly soiled recessed medal bed, case extremely fine. Accompanied by a Transport and General Workers Union Gold Medal (9 Ct Gold with black and white enamels, engraved "AWARDED TO THE LATE BRO. B.P. BATCHELOR / BRANCH No. 7/48/33 FOR BRAVERY 1988, maker marked "T.F", hallmarked with the Royal crown and an additional mark, marked "375" (9 Ct Gold) and date marked "o" on the reverse, 26.5 mm, on its original ribbon with pinback hanger inscribed "FOR BRAVERY", hanger maker marked "T.F", hallmarked with the Royal crown and and marked "375" (9 Ct Gold) on the reverse, light contact, extremely fine), along with a hardcovered book entitled "DEATH + OIL" by Brad Matsen (copyrighted 2011 by Bradford Matsen, published by Random House, printed in the United States of America, 218 pages). Footnote: Piper Alpha was a North Seas oil production platform operated by Occidental Petroleum (Caledonia) Limited, located 110 miles north-east of Aberdeen, Scotland. The platform began production in 1976, first as an oil platform, and then later, converted to gas production. An explosion and the resulting oil and gas fires destroyed it on the evening of July 6, 1988, killing 167 men, with only 61 survivors. Seven of the heroes of the Piper Alpha Disaster were awarded the George Medal for their actions, two of them posthumously: Brian Batchelor and Malcolm Storey. Along with Iain Letham, who survived the incident, the three were members of the crew of the fast rescue craft, which attempted to pick up the survivors from the holocaust. Brian Batchelor of Scunthorpe, age 44, along with Malcolm Storey, age 29 of Alness and Iain Letham, age 29 of Gourdon, were on board the stand-by vessel Sandhaven, when the Occidental platform exploded. They boarded their fast rescue craft and within six minutes were under the blazing platform. They picked up four survivors and as they headed away to safety, spotted a further two and turned back under the platform. Having collected them, they became tangled in ropes as they tried to get away. As they struggled to free themselves, there was a huge explosion and the fast rescue craft was engulfed in flames. Letham was blown out of the boat and ended up in the water with his life jacket melting across his back, the only one of nine in the boat who survived. Both Batchelor and Storey perished, along with the six that had been plucked out of the water. Of all those who died, thirty bodies were never recovered. Total insured loss was about £1.7 Billion (U.S. $3.4 Billion). At the time of the disaster, the platform accounted for approximately ten percent of North Sea oil and gas production, and was the worst offshore oil disaster in terms of lives lost and industry impact. The Kirk of St. Nicholas on Union Street in Aberdeen dedicated a chapel, in memory of those who perished and there is a memorial sculpture in the Rose Garden of Hazelhead Park in Aberdeen. The Cullen Inquiry was set up in November 1988, to establish the cause of the disaster and chaired by the Scottish judge, William Cullen. After 180 days of proceedings, it released its report entitled "Public Inquiry into the Piper Alpha Disaster" (AKA Cullen Report) in November 1990. It concluded that the initial condensate leak was the result of maintenance work being carried out simultaneously on a pump and related safety valve. The inquiry was critical of Piper Alpha's operator, Occidental, which was found guilty of having inadequate maintenance and safety procedures, but no criminal charges were ever brought against the company. The second part of the report made 106 recommendations for North Seas safety procedures: 37 recommendations covered procedures for operating equipment, 32 regarding information for platform personnel, 25 in regards to the design of platforms and 12 regarding information for emergency services. Also noted, was the responsibility to implement: 57 with the regulator, 40 for the operators, 8 for the industry as a whole and 1 for the stand-by ship owners. These led to the adoption of the Offshore Installations (Safety Case) Regulations of 1992.