The Seacor Power left Port Fourchon on Tuesday, heading for an oil drilling site off the coast of Louisiana in the Gulf of Mexico. The Seacor Power is what in the oil industry is known as a “lift boat” or a “jack-up boat.” In simple terms, a jack-up boat is something akin to a mobile oil rig platform. In the case of the Seacor Power, the craft and mobile oil rig was headed to a point in the Gulf located about 40 miles east of the coast of Louisiana called Main Pass 138.
The Seacor Power left Port Fourchon at about 2:30 Tuesday afternoon, in relatively calm weather conditions. With that said, there were predictions for rougher seas later that day. As it turned out, the Seacor Power encountered hurricane gale forces on the open water, a reality that spelled disaster for the craft and the 19 people on board.
The Seacor Power capsized in the violent storm about eight miles off the Louisiana coast about two hours after leaving the port. The Coast Guard responded to the scene fairly swiftly and found five of the 19 crew members on the overturned hull of the watercraft. Despite prevailing weather conditions, two of the men were able to jump off the hull – the upturned bottom of the Seacor Power. They were rescued by the Coast Guard.
Two of the other men found on the hull were provided lifejackets and radios by the Coast Guard. Their rescue at the time proved impossible because of the prevailing storm conditions. These two men evidently made their way back into the overturned watercraft. Their status is not specifically known as of this time.
A fifth man who was spotted on the hull when the Coast Guard arrived slipped into the water and vanished. According to the Coast Guard, the man was next seen two nights later not far from the overturned Seacor Power. There is some degree of confusion about the status of this crew member when the Coast Guard later came upon him. According to reports, he was “picked up” by the Coast Guard and evidently was alive at that moment. Nonetheless, by the time the Coast Guard conveyed the man to their station at Grand Isle, he had died.
The remains of one other crew member were found 30 miles from the scene of the accident. The remains of this man were taken from the water on Friday afternoon.
13 crew members remain unaccounted for as of Friday evening. When the Seacor Power capsized, an air pocket was created (or multiple air pockets were created) in the large structure. Crew members are able to survive within the overturned structure for some period of time. Officials have not provided definitive information regarding how long these crew members can survive in that situation as a result of variables not known to the Coast Guard and others at this time.
Rescue efforts have been ongoing but continue to be thwarted by prevailing weather conditions on the Gulf. The Coast Guard still classifies its mission relative to the Seacor Power as a search and rescue operation, with hope remaining on Friday evening that all or some of the remaining crew members may still be alive within air pockets of the overturned Seacor Power.
Rescue divers had to stop their efforts again on Friday morning due to worsening weather conditions. However, by Friday afternoon, search and rescue operations resumed, at least for the time being.
Even in good weather, searching the capsized Seacor Power is a major challenge. David Bourg, an adjunct professor at the School of Naval Architecture and Marine Engineering at the University of New Orleans explained why. “Imagine if you take a four-story building with multiple rooms in it, turn it upside down and put it in the water and try to navigate it with a flashlight -- that’s what you’re looking at here,” Bourg said.
If you’ve a loved one on the Seacor Power, you may have questions and concerns. While there are many immediate issues on your mind, the team at The Doan Law Firm is here for you during this incomprehensible time. We’ve a 24-hour hotline at (800) 349-0000 that is staffed seven days a week, 365 days a year.