SEACOR Power lowering its legs when it capsized, NTSB says

(WASHINGTON) — The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) has published the preliminary report for its ongoing investigation of the fatal capsizing of the liftboat SEACOR Power on April 13 near Port Fourchon, La.

Information in the report is preliminary and subject to change as the investigation progresses and as such, no conclusions about the cause of the accident should be drawn from the report.

There were 19 people aboard the U.S.-flagged, 175-foot-long SEACOR Power at the time of the accident. Six people were rescued by the Coast Guard and good Samaritan vessels, six people died in the accident and seven remain missing.

SEACOR Power departed Port Fourchon at about 1:30 p.m. April 13, bound for the oil and gas lease area Main Pass Block 138 in the Gulf of Mexico. A weather report emailed to the vessel at 7:02 a.m. that day predicted afternoon winds at 9 to 12 knots from the southeast with 3-foot seas.

Seacor Power
A U.S. Coast Guard response boat crew heads toward the capsized SEACOR Power on April 13 south of Port Fourchon, La. U.S. Coast Guard photo

NTSB investigators learned that at about 3:30 p.m., as SEACOR Power transited the open waters of the gulf, a squall passed over the liftboat. With visibility dropping and winds increasing significantly, the crew decided to lower SEACOR Power’s legs to the seafloor to hold the vessel in position until the storm passed. The crewmember at the helm attempted to turn SEACOR Power into the wind as the legs began to descend. Before the turn was completed, the liftboat heeled to starboard and capsized.

NTSB investigators also learned several people were able to escape onto the exposed port side of the SEACOR Power deckhouse. High winds and seas that had built to 10 to 12 feet prevented rescuers from reaching those who remained on the liftboat. Some were washed into the water and six were eventually rescued, with one survivor suffering a serious injury.

NTSB investigators have interviewed survivors, other personnel who previously crewed SEACOR Power, representatives for the owner and charterer, vessel inspectors and surveyors, and search and rescue responders.

When SEACOR Power is salvaged, NTSB investigators intend to return to inspect the vessel and collect further evidence.

– National Transportation Safety Board

By Professional Mariner Staff