Four crew on crane barge injured

Four crewmen were seriously injured on the deck of a derrick-crane barge when a large wave struck their vessel in the Gulf of Mexico.

The Coast Guard said the accident happened March 24 on the 300-foot-long barge IOS 800, 65 nm south of Sabine Pass, Texas.

The vessel was facing 8- to 10-foot seas and 30- to 40-knot winds when one of the breakwater bow doors began to open. Some crewmembers ventured out onto the deck in an attempt to solve the problem, said Lt. Daniel Gonzalez, the Coast Guard’s senior investigator at Port Arthur.

“They were having problems with a door. The door was swinging open, and they went out to try to secure it,†Gonzalez said. “A wave crashed over the bow. It flung those doors open and threw the men down to the deck and pinned them between the doors and a generator that was on the deck.â€

The vessel belongs to International Construction Group LLC. It was built in 2007, the Larose, La.-based company said.

The Coast Guard said a distress call from the offshore construction barge was taken by Sector Houston-Galveston at 1043. The incident report stated that the four patients were “seriously injured. The first person had severe lacerations to his arm and his arm was almost amputated. Second person has possible broken ribs with heavy bruising of the chest and abdominal area. The third person has severe damage to the knees and possible broken legs. The fourth person has severe contusions on his right and left arms.â€

A Coast Guard rescue helicopter responded. The rescue was difficult because the vessel was moving in the heavy seas and the cranes needed to be avoided. The 90-foot-wide barge has an A-frame crane with a boom length of 200 feet at the stern and two revolving cranes with boom lengths of 160 feet at the bow end.

“The most challenging thing was hoisting from 150 feet in the air because the cranes were potentially in the way,†said pilot Lt. Brian Conley. “They were about 150 to 200 feet from us while we were hovering. … We really had to be aware because of the way the winds were going and … we were hoisting with the crane at the stern almost behind us, and (it was) difficult to see. Only way was to have our flight mechanic with his head out the door watching the cranes.â€

Conley continued: “Once over the barge, we saw the injured men had been brought to the top of the large, flat structure near the center of the barge. We lowered our rescue swimmer onto the barge. The most critical guy was picked up using the litter and the second most critical man was hoisted using the basket.â€

The medevac helicopter flew the first two injured men to the University of Texas Medical Branch in Galveston. The helicopter returned to IOS 800, lowered the rescue swimmer again, lifted the two other injured men and then the rescue swimmer with the basket and flew back again to the hospital.

“We took our rescue swimmer with us both times because with the first lift we wanted the rescue diver to be with the most critically injured because he is a trained EMT,†Conley explained.

IOS 800 conducts marine salvage, platform decommissioning and installation services. Its stern-mounted A-frame crane has a capacity to lift 726 metric tons.

The Coast Guard was finishing up its casualty investigation in July, and no further details about the incident were released.

Bubba Matherne, safety officer with International Construction parent International Offshore Services LLC, also declined to comment.

Richard O. Aichele
and Dom Yanchunas

By Professional Mariner Staff