Crew and passengers rescued from lifeboats after fleeing sinking OSV

An offshore supply vessel capsized and sank in the Gulf of Mexico after possibly hitting a submerged object.

The crane barge IOS 800 secures the capsized Int'l Hunter and orients the submerged vessel to make it safe for salvage divers to begin work. The wreck was later removed. (Photo courtesy U.S. Coast Guard)

All seven people aboard Int'l Hunter escaped in lifeboats after it started taking on water just before dusk on Dec. 13, 2011, about 25 miles southeast of the Sabine, Texas, jetties, the U.S. Coast Guard said.

Officially listed as an OSV, owner International Marine LLC calls Int'l Hunter an offshore "utility" vessel. With four crew and three passengers aboard, the boat was transporting supplies and personnel between two platforms when it began flooding. The weather was clear, visibility was good and seas were three to four feet, said Coast Guard investigator Lt. j.g. Wade Thompson.

The emergency began at about 1630. The captain ordered everyone to abandon ship just a few minutes later. International Marine, based in Larose, La., said the boat's occupants were picked up by a good Samaritan vessel, the OSV Gulf Endeavor.

Int'l Hunter crew "reported striking a submerged object," the company said in a statement. "The seven men aboard abandoned the vessel in lifeboats, were rescued within the hour and received medical attention upon arrival ashore at Cameron, La. They were released without serious injury."

The object carved a 3.5-by-1.5-foot gash on one side of the bow, below the waterline, said Doug Ryan, chief financial officer of the company's International Offshore Services LLC unit. Thompson said the vessel sank in 40 feet of water.

"There was hull damage, and that's what caused the water ingress," Thompson said. "It did capsize. It submerged pretty quickly, but all (aboard) were able to get off pretty quickly before it went under."

Constructed in 1978, Int'l Hunter is promoted as one of International Marine's eight support boats in the 120-foot utility category that are hired out for offshore construction and production projects. The company said it's the largest fleet of utility vessels in the Gulf.

Sister ship Int'l Navigator located the sunken utility vessel on the morning of Dec. 15, International Marine said. Int'l Hunter was loaded with diesel fuel and lube oil and environmental precautions were taken, but only a light sheen was spotted, the Coast Guard said. International Marine sent a spill recovery vessel to the site.

Int'l Hunter was successfully salvaged Dec. 28 by the company's own vessels, including the crane barge IOS 800. "It's considered a total loss," Pine said, "and it's not going to be repaired."

By Professional Mariner Staff