The Coast Guard will stop the search and rescue process for missing crew members of the capsized Seacor Power at the end of the day Monday, officials said.
"We've had to make the difficult to decision to suspend search and rescue efforts at sunset today," said Coast Guard Capt. Will E. Watson, commander of Coast Guard Sector New Orleans.
The Seacor Power capsized with 19 crew members aboard at about 4:30 p.m. Tuesday after it was hit by a sudden squall packing hurricane-force winds and destructive waves.
Six crew members were saved that day. Five have been found dead and eight are still missing.
Officials from the Coast Guard, the National Transportation Safety Board and executives from the owner of the Seacor Power shared the update during a 1 p.m. press conference Monday.
Officials told the families of the crew members before the public press conference about the end of the search, which covered thousands of square miles over the past six days. However, they noted that divers contracted by the Seacor Power's owner will continue to search the insides of the sunken vessel as part of the recovery process.
"There was a lot of hugging and a lot of crying," Watson said. "There was a lot of sadness and grief."NTSB officials have been on the ground in Louisiana since last week. NTSB official Drew Ehlers said the investigation will take between 12 and 24 months.
The investigation will look at the weather conditions at the time of the accident. It will also look at the people involved in the accident, the vessel itself and its equipment.
NTSB officials said they want to hear from people who were out on the water that day and may have seen something. Those people are asked to reach out at [email protected].
John Gellert, president and CEO of Seacor Marine Holdings Inc., was asked why the vessel was moving in bad weather. He said the decision was ultimately up to the captain, who he described as a veteran mariner with five decades of experience.
He also said that it appeared that a leg of the vessel was partially retracted, which suggested that the captain had been trying to lower the legs of the vessel as the storm arrived in order to put it in its more stable position as a platform above the water.
One of the rescued crew members was on the bridge with the captain before the vessel capsized, and would have been involved in the process to decide on whether to set out, Gellert said.
Gellert said they will continue to search using their diving contractors at the site. The divers have been through about half of the vessel, he said. Divers will continue to go out to the site as weather conditions allow.
"The families continue to have hope and prayers and we would like everyone to continue their thoughts and prayers for the families of those still missing," Gellert said.
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