Liftboat sinks after crew of six is evacuated

The liftboat Juan sank on Dec. 30, following difficulties experienced during jack-up operations 70 miles south of Gibson, La.
Juan, owned and operated by Montco Offshore, Golden Meadow, La., was operating in the Gulf of Mexico’s outer continental shelf in Ship Shoal Block 207, 30 miles south of Caillou Bay. According to company spokesman Troy Gisclaire, the vessel began to list when one of its three 200-foot-long, 52-inch-diameter legs “punched through” the seabed into a soft pocket of mud on Dec. 27 at about 2100.
Initially the vessel listed 10° to starboard. All six crewmembers were evacuated as weather conditions deteriorated. Winds were 5 to 10 knots from the northeast and increasing. Seas were 2 to 3 feet. The crew transferred at about 0130 on Dec. 28 to Sabine Seal, a 155-foot supply boat owned and operated by Southern States Offshore of Houston.
None of the crew of Juan was injured. The evacuation procedure was straightforward, as the crew of Juan simply boarded Sabine Seal by climbing across its rail. Sabine Seal then took the crewmembers to a nearby platform, where they spent the night before being flown to shore the next morning.
 Around midday on Dec. 28 Montco Offshore flew a team of its employees along with a hydraulic specialist to the vessel with hopes of stabilizing it by retracting or extending the legs. The team’s efforts were unsuccessful, Gisclaire said, because “the legs were bound up when the vessel shifted.” During the time that the team visited the vessel the list was between 10° and 15°
The team abandoned its efforts after about an hour, left the ship, and were flown back to shore that afternoon. By early morning on Dec. 29, the list had increased to about 45°. Juan finally sank in approximately 100 feet the next day at about 0300.
Gisclaire said that there were no mechanical or systems failures on the liftboat.
Salvage operations were begun but progress was slowed due to wind and sea conditions. Gisclaire said that salvage divers plugged all the inlets and secured the fuel. There has been no pollution associated with the sinking. Once the vessel has been raised, the company hopes to have it repaired and put back in service.
The U.S. Coast Guard Marine Safety Unit in Morgan City, La., is investigating the incident.
By Professional Mariner Staff