Casualty News April 2021

Five dead, eight missing after liftboat capsizes near Port Fourchon
Five people died and eight are missing after a liftboat capsized south of Port Fourchon, La., in heavy weather while transiting to an offshore platform.

Six people from SEACOR Power were rescued by the U.S. Coast Guard and good Samaritans soon after the liftboat rolled over at about 1630 on April 13. The bodies of five crew and contractors aboard the vessel were recovered in the days that followed the incident.

The Coast Guard called off the search on April 19, although divers remained on site searching the liftboat for possible survivors. The incident has racked Louisiana’s close-knit maritime community.

SEACOR Power left Port Fourchon at about 1330 on April 13 for Main Pass, about 25 miles to the east. Several lines of strong thunderstorms passed through the region, creating a weather phenomenon known as a “wake low” that brought hurricane-force winds and 7- to 9-foot seas.

The cause of the accident is under investigation by the National Transportation Safety Board, which said the process could take up to two years.


One dead, two missing after recreational boat, tow collide near Louisville
One person died and two are missing after a recreational boat and a Marquette Transportation tow collided after dark on the Ohio River near Louisville, Ky.

The 5,000-hp Ronald E. Wagendlast was pushing four barges at about 2200 on April 17 when it collided with the boat carrying seven people, Coast Guard Lt. David Schneider said.

Crew from the towboat rescued five people from the recreational craft, which overturned during the collision. All five were hospitalized and one person later died. Two others on the boat were not located during an extensive search.

The investigation of what led to the collision is ongoing, Schneider said. The incident happened near mile 619.


Tug and barge refloated after Puerto Rico pier strike, grounding
Authorities are investigating a pier strike and grounding near a Puerto Rico terminal that occurred during docking maneuvers.

The incident involving the U.S.-flagged tugboat Don Jaime and barge Marilin H. happened on the afternoon of April 20 at the Ensenada Honda auxiliary cargo dock in Culebra, the U.S. Coast Guard said. Additional details about the incident were not available.

The tug had roughly 7,000 gallons of diesel in its tanks, which did not breach. Authorities did not see any sheening around the vessels after they were refloated within a day of the incident.

“We are looking to identify the causal factors in this incident to help prevent this situation from reoccurring and also determine any potential damages to the docking pier, the vessel and the barge to ensure they are safe,” said Cmdr. Jose Rosario, Coast Guard Sector San Juan chief of prevention.

The 2,200-hp Don Jaime is operated by American Tugs & Barge Inc. The vessel is home-ported in Yabucoa, Puerto Rico.

Coast Guard, Good Samaritans Rescue 6 People From Capsized Vessel 8 Miles South Of Grand Isle, Searching For More
A Coast Guard boat crew responds to the capsized SEACOR Power on April 13. U.S. Coast Guard photo

Casualty flashback: April 1914
The Great Lakes steamship Benjamin Noble was approaching Duluth, Minn., with a load of steel rails when it was battered by a spring storm. The ship sank roughly 20 miles east near Knife River, Minn.

All hands went down with the ship, a number that ranges from 16 to 20 people.

The ship entered Lake Superior on April 28, 1914. It sailed in the vicinity of several other ships bound for Duluth, including the freighter Daniel J. Morrell, which sank in November 1966 with 28 lives lost. According to a published report, crew aboard Daniel J. Morrell noticed the lights of a ship disappear at about 0300. That afternoon, Benjamin Noble’s hatch covers washed onto a beach near Duluth, and a day later more debris was found.

One maritime historian suggested the 239-foot vessel sank due to its heavy load, which combined with its very low freeboard made the ship susceptible to downflooding into its cargo holds.

The ship’s wreckage was found in 2004 near Knife River in the same general area where Daniel J. Morrell’s crew saw a vessel’s lights disappear all those years before.

By Professional Mariner Staff