The families of 39 crewmembers of the Russian oil rig which collapsed and sank off the coast of Russia last week, are coming to terms with the fact that their loved ones will never be found. Mixed with sorrow is also anger that company officials went ahead with what was possibly a suicidal towing mission.

The Kolskaya oil and gas drilling platform sank in the Sea of Okhotsk as it was being towed to Vietnam. The rig flipped over and sank quickly. There were 67 crew members on board. So far, 14 bodies have been recovered, and 14 of the crew members have been rescued from the water. The remaining 39 crewmembers are still missing, and hopes for their rescue are quickly fading in the icy waters.

According to the wife of one of the workers who spoke to the media, her husband called her several times over the past week, and called the towing mission a suicidal one. The woman says that her husband had told her about the rough weather conditions, including the high waves and the strong winds. Other crewmembers’ families are also asking similar questions about whether it was necessary to tow the rig in such difficult weather conditions.

The owner of the rig, AMNGR, insists that the rig was properly maintained, and that at least four inflated rescue craft were put into service. However, because of the rough sea conditions, people could not reach the rescue boats in time.

Winter time towing can be extremely dangerous. In the days ahead, maritime attorneys expect investigating agencies to ask questions about the necessity of a towing mission like this.