From left, sole survivor Christopher Boodram, Kazim Ali Jr, Yusuf Henry, Rishi Nagassar and Fyzal Kurban
Diving Expert Not Given Basic Info
By Sue-Ann Wayow
DIVING expert Rolph Seales was not given basic valuable information that could have helped with a better assessment of the situation, the evening four underwater divers went missing at Paria’s Berth #6.
He also did not seek such information from Paria employees or others the night of February 25, 2022, when the men first went missing.
Since 2019, Seales has been the diving operations supervisor employed by Kenson assigned to the Point Fortin facility at Heritage Petroleum Company. He is also a diver with over 25 years of experience in marine diving operations and was previously employed permanently for 18 years as a commercial diver at Petrotrin.
He was required at around 4. 57 pm on February 25 to mobilise Mitchell’s Professional Diving Services to report to and provide support if required at Paria according to his witness statement provided to the Commission of Enquiry.
On Friday, while being questioned by attorney Prakash Ramadhar at the Commission of Enquiry Ramadhar asked Seales, “Did you even know how many persons were involved in this incident?”
“No” Seales said.
Ramadhar asked, “You were not interested to find out if it was one or ten?”
Ramadhar said, “Right. So did you make an enquiry because you are coming there not to just observe like a coonoomoonoo but to listen and to advise if it possible. Did you not enquire as to how many persons were involved in this incident that you knew right away was a Delta-P?”
Seales said, “No I did not get a number.”
Seales had admitted that upon being given initial information about the incident, he concluded that a Delta-P situation could have occurred resulting in the men being sucked into the pipeline.
Later on, Ramadhar would ask of Seales that there was little time to effect a rescue before the men could have died to which he agreed to.
He also said if Seales had known other information such as how many men actually needed to be rescued, he could have insisted that as difficult as it was, all efforts should have been made to rescue them.
Seales said yes.
In his interrogation, Ramadhar also drove home the point that the sole survivor of the incident Christopher Boodram could not fulfil his promise to return for the men in the pipe due to the decision that was made by Paria to halt all diving until they were certain that a rescue could have been safely carried out.
He also asked Seales, “Did you speak to each and every diver there that night as to their willingness, capacity, ability to go in?
Seales said no.
Ramadhar also asked if the companies were paid for their services that night to which Seales said yes.
Ramadhar asked if Seales was aware that divers namely Conan Beddoe was willing to risk his life at no cost. Seales said he was not aware.
The CoE heard that Seales first arrived at Berth #6 at 1 am on February 26, approximately 10 hours after the incident occurred.
He was asked if anything prevented him from going before that time.
Seales said he entered into an active emergency response system and was not free to do what he wanted.
Before Ramadhar began his questioning, CoE’s chairman Jerome Lynch, KC, had asked Seales if he was told that four other men were in the pipe when he was informed that one man had emerged.
Lynch said, “You had no idea when it is, he emerged from the pipe, you were not told as to the fact that it was known when he emerged from the pipe that there were still people in the pipe alive?”
At that time it was not actually confirmed if the men were in the pipeline or that they could have been alive Seales said.
Lynch said, “For you to have been able to assist Paria and or Heritage in this tragedy as a diving expert in your right, would you not think those were the basic facts that you would need to know?”
“Yes,” Seales responded.