What divers are saying —

This is an amazing read - I highly recommend it. I could not put it down. The writing is authoritative and precise, and captures not just the emotional aspects of these two men slowly dying through hubris and incompetence but also the seedy corruption in the high-stakes race of the early North Sea oil exploration, where safety was often an impediment to getting the job done quickly.

— Dr Andrew Pitkin MRCP FRCA
Anesthesiologist & diving/hyperbaric physician

Bravo! This should be obligatory reading for all concerned and especially for those who think they are not concerned.

— Peter Hutcheson, former diving supervisor

Just finished reading Into the Lion's Mouth -- compelling read that should be read by every working diver and supervisor. Michael Smart's research into the incident and resulting investigations and litigation is extensive and detailed.

— Mark V. Lonsdale, former deep saturation diver, diving supervisor,
author of United States Navy Diver – Performance Under Pressure

If you ever wondered what it's like to be a commercial oilfield diver, this book is a must read. The story is not only riveting, but it is technically accurate down to the last detail.

— Capel English, former commercial diver

Compelling, harrowing and impressively well researched. A former North Sea saturation diver, Michael Smart not only knows his subject inside out, he explains it all with admirable clarity. Holds the reader's attention to the last page.

— Christopher Swann
author of The History of Oilfield Diving: An Industrial Adventure

When the book first arrived I took it out of the packet, and as I was holding it, I looked at the ship on the front cover. At that moment I felt all the anger and frustration come flooding back and tears were running down my cheeks. I could not bring myself to open it. I had no idea how deeply I had buried my feelings about that day. It sat on my desk for more than three weeks before I could open it.

— Mike Allen, Wharton and Williams rescue diving supervisor

Your book and telling of this story was great. I am a retired commercial diver and currently still work offshore as an inspector-company representative. While reading this story, I wanted to scream and say, "STOP DON'T DO THAT!"

— Dan Olson, former commercial diver

It was the most emotionally difficult book that I have ever read...Michael Smart has done us all a great service in uncovering and bringing to light all of the reasons for the deaths of Richard and Skip. I owe him a debt of gratitude for his years of work in pursuing such a difficult task and illuminating for me the circumstances of a friend's horrible death.

— Louie Meader, former Infabco diver

Your book arrived the day after I ordered it. I unwrapped the book and it sat on the kitchen table for two days before I started reading it...As I started to read it I began to fall apart again, as if it was only yesterday. Val [my wife] limited me to short bursts of contact with the book as it was tearing me apart, reliving the past.

— Thom Almon
former Infabco diving supervisor and witness to the rescue

You did a fantastic job telling the truth about the conditions in the North Sea.

— Fred Johnson, Program Instructor
Leonard Greenstone Marine Technology Training Center

This story is little known in the long, serial fight for human rights but as a link in that chain its importance is significant. It exposes a decisive moment in the conflict between commercial profit and the individual's reasonable expectation of survival. It is an indictment of the worst dispositions of human behavior. The story of Richard and Skip has become an aching symbol in an industry willing to imperil workers in pursuit of material goals.

In its era the story of their demise was common enough. The details of their tragedy, however, were so egregious, careless and derelict; it became a major force for change in a business long invested in irresponsibility.

More than another recital of dangers faced by men at work under the sea, this event is underscored by the knowledge they died so needlessly. Unmasked in this report is the criminal abuse of hidebound bureaucracies influenced by wholesale disregard for humanity, institutionalized negligence, ego, venality, inexperience and indifference.

Smart's gift to the reader is his commitment to his narrative. Presenting a soaring degree of research, exacting detail, careful construction and persuasive prose, he engages the intellect connecting the reader to his subject. His steady method develops layers of accumulated fact, which personalize events establishing empathy in a technically dense and esoteric world.

This book is important as a clarion call to end workplace malfeasance enacted by business entities. It takes a serious place in the long, difficult struggle to protect and dignify human life.

— Michael Ferris
SOC, Camera Operator, Director of Photography, Underwater Cameraman
Hollywood, California

Wow what a story! It gripped me from the first page. It was unbelievable how much deception and corner cutting took place during and after this terrible event. I will definitely recommend this book to entry-level divers, supervisors, regulators and most of all safety inspectors.

— Dave Geddes
Dive Supervisor and Diving and Hyperbaric Consultant

This book is explosive! It should be made part of every diver's library, and should be essential reading for anyone considering diving as a career. It should also be placed on every diving operator's desk to remind him of how not to go about running an operation. From page one you are catapulted into the life of the offshore commercial diver as it was in the 1970s. Be prepared to go through a range of emotions from apprehension, incredulity, anger, disbelief, disgust and deep sadness as you live through the events that lead to the unnecessary deaths of two experienced professionals. The cover-ups that followed and the despicable manner in which the families were treated will leave you wanting to pound on doors and demand justice.

The book has been meticulously researched, and is difficult to put down from the turn of the first page until the bitter bitter end.

It is a story that demands to be told!

— Mark Longstreath, owner, Longstreath.com

Years ago, when I entered Santa Barbara City College, I'd heard the rumors about the Wildrake accident. Now, so many years later, Michael Smart takes us back to the scene of the accident and elicits long suppressed feelings of dread and joy in those of us who spent our lives working on the bottom of the sea.

This is a story of incompetence, greed and deceit. It's also a story about the bonds of courage and cooperation that connect divers to ensure each other's safety and survival. It details the heavy price paid for the energy we need, and the advancement of diving knowledge and technology.

The Wildrake tragedy did not have to happen; but it would be an even greater tragedy if this story were not told and we did not learn from the sacrifice of Richard Walker and Victor Guiel, and all those who perished in our industry. This book should be required reading for managers, supervisors, divers and students alike.

— Geoff Thielst
Director, Marine Diving Technologies
Santa Barbara City College

Into the Lion's Mouth is truly a well-written work. I found it hard to put down. I can highly recommend this book to anyone, even beyond the Offshore Industry.

— Bev Morgan, Kirby Morgan Dive Systems Inc.

In hazard-filled work environments, every time light can be directed onto the rat holes that hide subterfuge in the workings of any company—using sleight-of-hand techniques to hide negligent work practices from the law and from civil liability—is an important calling and you certainly have directed a large searchlight onto Infabco. I really hope those who read your work can extrapolate the events in this diving story to every other operational work environment.

— Brian Clements, former Sub Sea International Diving Superintendent

It's an outrageous story! Finally, it comes to light.

— Skip Gordon, Technip, North Sea

Into the Lion's Mouth was a gut-wrenching read. It left me filled with anger and sorrow and it will be hard to put this story out of my mind. This was so emotionally gripping; I was only able to take in a few chapters at a time. The events as unfolded made me want to bang some heads together and kick some ass. It was particularly emotional for me because I knew Richard quite well.

— Bob Christensen, ex-commercial diver
former Director, Marine Diving Technology
Santa Barbara City College

A devastating and heartbreaking tragedy that needed to be told; it will shock and stir your every emotion—make you angry—and even make you weep.

— Kevin Casey, diver, North Sea

Because this accident was so preventable it punctuates the importance that this story must be read and passed on to every commercial dive school student, tender, and journeyman diver who either wishes to make a career, or continue working, in the diving industry. The unfortunate truth is that a disregard in following safe diving practices, and the perceived threat of losing one's livelihood, is what killed my two good friends on the Wildrake. If anyone wishes to learn from other people's mistakes, you'll need to pay close attention while reading this book.

— Tom Belcher, President, Underwater Resources, Inc.

Into the Lion's Mouth is a very well researched, well written and factual story of the tragic events leading up to and causing the deaths of Richard and Skip. Even though the story is over 30 years in the telling, it's a story long overdue.

— Steve Nye, former Sub Sea International diver
BW Offshore, Houston

This is truly an amazing story about the deaths of two good friends of mine that should be read by everyone in the diving industry. I was working offshore in the middle of all this and had no idea of the back-room deals that were taking place. I thought it was supposed to be all about our performance offshore and how fast we got the bell in the water—boy was I wrong! Thanks for your great work in getting the truth out.

— Gary Kane, aka Snork
former Infabco diving supervisor
President, The Kane Kompany, Inc.
Lion's Mouth Publishing, LLC.

Lion's Mouth Publishing, LLC.

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