‘We are all deeply shocked by this terrible tragedy,’ Amicus Regional Officer, Graham Tran, said yesterday.
Tran was commenting on the deaths of seven men and the fifteen-year-old-son of one of the men, after a North Sea offshore rig supply ship capsized in freezing waters on Thursday afternoon.
Of the 15 people on board, 14 were Norwegian nationals, including the man and his 15-year-old son, who was on a work-experience training course, and one was Danish.
Seven people were airlifted to hospital on the Shetland islands after the accident.
Tran added: ‘Our thoughts and prayers are with the families and friends of the crew.
‘It is important at this stage that people do not jump to conclusions about the causes and wait for a full and proper investigation.
‘We also welcome and applaud the immediate actions of (rig operators) Transocean in standing down the crew members of the rig and flying them to the mainland.’
All the dead are from the same Norwegian village.
An Offshore Industry Liaison Committee spokesman told News Line: ‘We are all very shocked.
‘No 15-year-old would be working on the sharp end on one of these boats.
‘He was probably being taken along as part of his education and was observing in the wheelhouse.
‘This would account for the fact that he was lost.
‘There must be a proper inquiry into this tragedy.’
Norrie McVicar, International Transport Federation officer in Scotland, added separately: ‘There shouldn’t be a 15-year-old on board.
‘The minimum age to go to sea is 16, and it is custom and practice in the offshore supply vessel industry that no-one under 18 should be on board in any working capacity.
‘I’m an ex-bosun on supply vessels. This is a very unusual and strange experience.
‘British and Norwegian flagged supply vessels have a good safety record over many years. This comes as a real surprise.’
Coastguards initially rescued ten of the fifteen people on board the Norwegian vessel, the Bourbon Dolphin, three of whom died.
Coastguards said those rescued had escaped because they were close to the water when the vessel capsized.
Rescuers had been hoping for ‘a miracle’ yesterday as they continued the search for four workers and the fifteen-year-old boy on work experience, who were still missing.
Navy divers attempted to carry out a search and rescue operation on the stricken vessel yesterday afternoon but had to withdraw as conditions became too dangerous.
Aberdeen Coastguard Richard Crowther said beforehand there was only a ‘very remote chance’ anyone would have survived 22 hours in ‘very cold waters’.
On the difficulty in securing the vessel, he added: ‘There is a danger and risk of separating the vessel from the rig. The vessel could sink at any moment.
‘And there is an apparent danger to the rig itself by the vessel remaining attached to the rig.’
The Bourbon Dolphin had overturned about 75 nautical miles west of the remote north Shetland Islands near the Transocean Rather oil platform at about 5pm Thursday.
Navy divers equipped with heat seeking cameras searched through the night for the missing Norwegians on Thursday.
All non-essential personnel have been taken off the Transocean Rather oil platform.
The ship, which is less than a year old, was working in the vicinity of the Rosebank oilfield.