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Usually waking up because you have to go to the bathroom is annoying. But on May 26, 2013,
waking up and leaving his bunk to use the bathroom was a decision that saved 29 year
old Harrison Odjegba Okene's life. Through an odd twist of fate, Harrison ended up being
the lone survivor of a boat sinking at sea. He can lay claim to a unique title-- he's
the only known person in the world to have survived on the seafloor for nearly 3 days.
The Gulf of Guinea in the southeast Atlantic Ocean is rich with petroleum laden layers
of sedimentary seabed. Many offshore oil rig drilling operations dot the African coast
here. On May 26, about 20 miles (32 km) off of Escravos, Nigeria, in choppy seas three
tugboats pitched and yawed as they performed tension tow functions on a Chevron oil tanker
filling up at Single Buoy Mooring #3. Just before 5 am, the tugboat Jascon-4 was caught
by a large rogue wave and capsized.
Because of ongoing piracy problems in the Gulf, security protocol on the tugboat was
that the 12 man crew would lock themselves in their rooms when sleeping. Unfortunately,
this rule slowed down the Jascon-4's crew when they tried to escape. The crew members
had to first scramble out of their cabins, that is except for the vessel's cook Harrison,
who had gotten up to use the bathroom in his underwear.
When the tugboat keeled over and the ocean rushed in, Harrison had to force the bathroom's
metal door open against a wall of water. The pressure of the water was extremely strong
and Harrison was unable to follow some of his colleagues to the emergency hatch. He
watched in horror as a surge overwhelmed 3 crew members and swept them out of the boat
into the raging sea. Then the water pushed Harrison down a narrow hallway into another
bathroom which adjoined an officer's cabin. Dazed and bruised, but miraculously still
alive, Harrison held on to an overturned washbasin to keep his head above water in the four foot
square bathroom.
The boat sank nearly 100 feet (30 meters), eventually coming to rest upside down on the
seabed. When the tugboat capsized, there was an immediate rescue operation launched with
other boats in the area and a helicopter. A diving crew quickly located the wreck and
marked the location with buoys. They banged on the hull; Harrison hammered back, but they
didn't hear him. As the divers weren't prepared for deep diving, they could only
stay at the depth of the wreck for a limited period of time. The rescue was called off
due to no evidence of survivors.
After nearly a day of being in the bathroom, Harrison got up the courage to leave his little
air pocket. In pitch darkness, he swam and felt his way into the engineer's office. Miraculously,
there was another air pocket here too, of about 4 feet (1.2 meters) high in Harrison's
Having solved the immediate problem of having air to breathe, Harrison could focus on other
concerns. The first one being that he was cold. In May, the surface temperature of the
east Atlantic on average is a pleasant 81.9°F (27.7°C). But Harrison was 100 feet (30m)
down. Shivering, wet and wearing only boxer shorts, Harrison faced hypothermia, or his
body losing heat faster than he could produce it. Cautiously Harrison felt his way around
the cabin. He found some tools and used them to strip off wall paneling. With a mattress
and the material from the wall, he was able to make a platform to sit on. This platform
helped Harrison to stay afloat and lifted the upper half of his body out of the water,
allowing him to reduce heat loss.
Hungry, thirsty, cold and stuck in complete darkness, Harrison was terrified. He tried
to think about his family. Quite religious, whenever he felt especially scared, Harrison
would pray and call on Jesus to rescue him. Over time the sea water began to remove the
skin from Harrison's tongue. He could smell something rotting--he thought it was the decomposing
bodies of his former shipmates. Every small sound in the dark was magnified--the creaking
of the hull, the banging of wreckage against the walls and most horrifically, splashing
and eating noises as fishes nibbled at the corpses.
Meanwhile, a dive support vessel, the Lewek Toucan arrived to the area of the sinking.
The parent company of the Jascon-4, West African Ventures, had hired a deep sea salvage saturation
diving team from subsea services company DCN Global to retrieve the bodies of the lost
crew members.
The 6 divers, deck crew and technical staff of the Lewek Toucan knew it was going to be
a grueling mission. Aside from the heartrending work of recovering the dead, the boat had
sunk upside down into soft mud, stirring up fine silt and creating extremely poor visibility.
Furthermore, because of security protocols the boat was latched from the inside.
Dive team two consisted of Nico Van Heerden, Andre Erasmus and Darryl Oosthuizen with supervisor
Colby Werrett topside on the ship, helping to guide the divers via a connected microphone
while watching the dive through a camera worn by Nico. The team spent over an hour breaking
through an external watertight door and then a second metal door to get into the sunken
boat. Once inside it was extremely disorienting with the ceiling being on the bottom and the
floor overhead. The murky water was filled with all sorts of hazards including furniture
and equipment.
Slowly, painstakingly, the divers explored the boat. They had recovered four corpses
when Nico crawled up the stairs to the main deck; it was a tight squeeze with the diving
gear on his back. He was in a small passageway getting his bearings when something suddenly
reached out of the murk and touched him…
Harrison had nearly given up hope when he heard a noise that sounded like an anchor
dropping. Then eventually he heard hammering on the hull of the boat. He knew it had to
be divers. He banged on the wall, but didn't think they heard him. Then Harrison saw the
light from one of the diver's head torches as he swam through the hallway past the far
end of the cabin. Unfortunately, the diver was too quick and left the area before Harrison
could reach him.
But then came the magical moment. You may have seen the surreal, amazing rescue footage
from Nico's video when he sees what he believes is another dead body. He touches the corpse's
hand and the hand unexpected squeezes his. Nico has a momentary freakout as his supervisor
Colby shouts through the microphone “He's alive, he's alive!” Colby then tells Nico
to comfort Harrison by patting him on the shoulder and giving him a thumbs up sign.
The divers were amazed to find Harrison alive. The maximum depth for recreational diving
is 130 feet (40 meters). Generally, recreational divers don't stay at 100 feet (30 meters)
for more than 20 minutes. In terms of the air pocket, the divers had reached Harrison
just in time. A human inhales roughly 350 cubic feet (10 cubic meters) of air every
24 hours. However, because the boat was under pressure on the ocean floor, scientists estimate
that Harrison's air pocket had been compressed by a factor of about four. If the pressurized
air pocket were about 216 cubic feet (6 cubic meters), it would contain enough oxygen to
keep Harrison alive for about two-and-a-half days. When Harrison was located, he had been
underwater for about 60 hours.
An additional danger came from carbon dioxide or CO2 buildup. CO2 is fatal to humans at
a concentration of about 5%. As Harrison breathed, he exhaled carbon dioxide, slowly increasing
the levels of the gas in the tiny space. However, CO2 is absorbed by water, and by splashing
the water inside his air pocket, Harrison inadvertently increased the water's surface
area, thereby heightening the absorption of CO2 and helping to keep the gas below the
lethal 5% level. The divers describe Harrison as having CO2 poisoning, being short of breath
and delirious when they found him--he wouldn't have lasted much longer.
The divers first used hot water to warm Harrison up, then fitted him with an oxygen mask. Meanwhile,
on the surface, the dive support crew was in contact with medical and diving experts,
discussing how to best help the survivor.
Harrison had a new problem, what divers commonly call 'the bends'. The bends, also known
as decompression sickness (DCS) or Caisson disease occurs when nitrogen bubbles form
in the blood as a result of changes in pressure. If Harrison ascended directly from 100 feet
(30 meters) underwater to the surface of the ocean, the bubbles in his blood would cause
in the best case joint pain and rashes to in the worst case paralysis, neurological
issues, cardiac arrest or possibly even death.
It was decided that Harrison would be treated as if he was one of the saturation divers
coming up after a dive. Harrison spent about 20 minutes getting used to breathing through
the mask. Then the divers put a diving helmet and harness onto him. They were a little worried
that he would panic as they got him out of the boat and be a danger to the dive, but
Harrison continued to be cool under pressure. The team was impressed with his level demeanor.
Harrison was taken from the boat and led to a diving bell which took him to the surface.,He
finally arrived topside around at 7pm on Tuesday, the 28th of May. Disoriented, Harrison thought
that it was Sunday evening and he had only been trapped for 12 hours. He was shocked
to learn that he had been underwater for over 2 days. From the diving bell, Harrison was
moved to a decompression chamber where he stayed for another 2 and ½ days while his
body decompressed to surface pressure.
Of the 12 crew members onboard the tugboat Jascon-4 , divers rescued 1 survivor and recovered
10 bodies. The search for the 11 crew member had to be called off due to dangerous conditions.
Harrison made a full recovery from his ordeal and returned to his hometown of Warri, Nigeria.
He didn't go to the funerals of his colleagues because he feared their families' reactions--Nigerians
can be very religious, but are also superstitious. Some rumors spread that Harrison saved himself
through black magic. Harrison was also plagued with survivor's guilt, wondering why he was
the only one to live.
Since the incident Harrison's experienced PTSD. His wife Akpovona Okene says he suffers
nightmares--Harrison will suddenly awake, screaming and flailing convinced that he's
Harrison has since taken a cooking job on dry land and vows to never again take a position
on a boat. He made a pact with God when he was at the bottom of the ocean: “When I
was under the water I told God: If you rescue me, I will never go back to the sea again,
Do you think you could survive underwater for 3 days like Harrison did? What would you
think about to keep your spirits up? Let us know in the comments! Also, be sure to check
out our other video The Only Man To Survive TWO Nuclear Bombs! Thanks for watching, and,
as always, don't forget to like, share, and subscribe. See you next time!”



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Jerry shiu 發佈於 2019 年 10 月 18 日
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