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Lift boat capsizes in Gulf of Mexico: What we know as search for crew continues

Posted by Dennis Danos | Apr 14, 2021 | 0 Comments

  • PUBLISHED APR 14, 2021 AT 7:25 AM | UPDATED APR 14, 2021 AT 10:34 AM

    The search continues Wednesday morning for 12 missing crew members after a commercial vessel capsized Tuesday off Louisiana's coast amid bad weather. 

    Six of the people aboard the Seacor Power have been rescued, according to the Coast Guard and local officials.

    The forecast calls for more storms and potentially high wind Wednesday.

    The Coast Guard has scheduled a press conference at 11 a.m. to provide the latest update. Follow the live updates.

    Here's what we know so far Wednesday.

    How many people were on the vessel?

    Lafourche Parish President Archie Chaisson III said 18 people were on board before the Seacor Power took on water in rough seas.

    “The hope is that we can bring the other 12 home alive,” Chaisson said by phone Wednesday morning as he traveled to Port Fourchon, where he said families of the crew members had begun to gather Tuesday night, seeking any information they could.

    A Coast Guard cutter reached the scene within 30 minutes of receiving the distress call and rescued one person from the water, officials said.

    Multiple good Samaritan vessels rescued four more people, the Coast Guard said, and a Coast Guard boatcrew from Grand Isle rescued another.

    “We continue to pray for the 18 men who were on that vessel as well as their families,” Chaisson said. The vessel's manifest described 18 crew members on board, he added.

    Where did the vessel capsize?

    The Seacor Power, a 129-foot lift boat, capsized in the Gulf of Mexico about 8 miles south of Port Fourchon, officials said.

    The vessel left Port Fourchon Tuesday at 2:12 p.m., according to Marine Traffic. The Coast Guard received an emergency distress signal from the Seacor Power at 4:30 p.m.

    How did the vessel capsize?

    The Seacor Power started taking on water around 4:30 p.m. Tuesday, officials said, as the metro area got hit by thunderstorms and strong gusts of wind.

    “There was a microburst of weather that came through the area at the time of the incident,” Coast Guard Petty Officer 2nd Class Jonathan Lally said Tuesday. “I don't know whether that was the cause, but what we can say is that inclement weather did hit the area at the time.”

    A ship in the Gulf heading into Port Fourchon clocked a gust of about 117 mph, according to our news partners at WWL-TV. For comparison, a Category 3 hurricane has sustained winds of 111 mph to 129 mph.

    Who is searching?

    The Coast Guard and good Samaritans were helping with the rescue mission Tuesday, and a search plane from Texas was enroute.

    The search continues Wednesday by air and sea. The Coast Guard said these rescue crews are involved:

    • Coast Guard Cutter Glenn Harris
    • Coast Guard Cutter Amberjack
    • A Coast Guard Air Station New Orleans MH-65 Dolphin helicopter
    • Two Coast Guard Station Grand Isle 45-foot RB-M
    • HC-144 Ocean Sentry airplanes from Coast Guard Air Station Corpus Christi and Coast Guard Aviation Training Center Mobile
    • Four good Samaritan vessels

    What's a lift boat?

    The Seacor Power is a commercial lift vessel, designed to become an offshore platform by dropping three towering legs down to the sea floor. Hit by the storm, it flipped over, with one of the legs pointed awkwardly skyward as rescuers searched for the workers in rough seas.

    Messages left for the capsized vessel's owner, Seacor Marine, weren't immediately returned late Tuesday. According to specifications on the owner's website, the Seacor Power is an offshore construction jack-up that was built in 2002 and carries nearly 40,500 gallons of fuel oil.

    Officials, focused on searching and rescuing crew members in the wake of the capsizing, haven't said how much of the Seacor Power's oil may have spilled.

    Port Fourchon, Louisiana's southernmost seaport, is a major base for the U.S. oil and gas industry, supporting most of Louisiana's offshore platforms and drilling rigs.

    Staff writers Katelyn Umholtz and Ramon Antonio Vargas contributed to this story, along with The Associated Press.

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