The Norwegian Civil Aviation Authorities will recover the Russian Mi-8 helicopter that had crashed on Thursday October 26 2017 off Barentsburg, as quickly as possible to investigate the reason of the crash according to a news dispatch. All eight occupants, five crew and three researchers were killed in the accident.

Pictures of a Remote Operated Vehicle (ROV) from the research ship Ossian Sars shop the helicopter wreck in a depth of 209 m. Credit: G.O.Sars
Pictures of a Remote Operated Vehicle (ROV) from the research ship Ossian Sars shop the helicopter wreck in a depth of 209 m. Credit: G.O.Sars

After the helicopter crash on Thursday afternoon, October 26. all search and rescue operations had started. Several local boats and later on, ships, were dispatched to search the presumed crash site off Herrodden, near the helicopter-landing site at Barentsburg. However, bad weather and rough sea conditions had made the search difficult. For several days, rescue teams from Norway and Russia were looking for survivors and wreckage parts, but only with the arrival of the research ship Ossian Sars and its submersible ROV, the teams were able to localize the Mi-8 wreck. It was found 2 kilometers northeast of Herrodden near Barentsburg in a depth of 209 meters. There, a strong smell of diesel and air bubbles on the sea suface had lead the teams to the spot. After localizing the helicopter, one dead body of one of the missing was found 130 m off the remains. All other persons are still missing and presumably dead.

The Russian settlement Barentsburg is situated on the Southern side of the Isfjord. Founded 1932, it nowadays has a population of 492 inhabitants and mainly lives off coal mining. Main investor is the Russian company Trust Arktikugol, which also has operated the crashed helicopter. Credit: Michael Wenger
The Russian settlement Barentsburg is situated on the Southern side of the Isfjord. Founded 1932, it nowadays has a population of 492 inhabitants and mainly lives off coal mining. Main investor is the Russian company Trust Arktikugol, which also has operated the crashed helicopter. Credit: Michael Wenger

The Norwegian Accident Investigation Board AIBN has started investigations and has begun to evaluate the cause of the accident in cooperation with colleagues from Russian Interstate Aviation Committee and specialists from the Russian ministry of Emergency Situations EMERCOM. According to information from AIBN, investigation will head into every direction. However, the investigations will focus on the meteorological conditions at the crash site, the technical conditions of the helicopter, and the experience of the pilots. Meanwhile, the Offshore Supply Vessel Maersk Forza has been sent to Svalbard to assist the teams with its ROVs and to recover the wreck with a strengthened crane. Divers from EMERCOM will assist the ship and a specialist from the Russian helicopter manufacturer will give lifting recommendations to ensure wreckage integrity. By using the ROVs, the search for the remaining missing persons will continue.

The Offshore Supply Vessel Maersk Forza is part of a series of specialized vessels to assist operations especially under water. The ship, constructed in 2008, can use its strengthened crane to lift heavy objects from deep sea. Credit: Larry Smith, MarineTraffic.com
The Offshore Supply Vessel Maersk Forza is part of a series of specialized vessels to assist operations especially under water. The ship, constructed in 2008, can use its strengthened crane to lift heavy objects from deep sea. Credit: Larry Smith, MarineTraffic.com

Source: Rolf Stange / AIBN