OSV holed after striking Gulf of Mexico oil platform in poor visibility

An offshore supply vessel heading back to port struck an oil platform in the Gulf of Mexico, breaching the OSV’s hull and causing the structure to collapse into the water.
Connor Bordelon was en route to Port Fourchon, La., at about 0430 hours on Jan. 23 when it hit the unmanned platform in South Timbalier Block 27, approximately five miles south of the port. The 260-foot OSV is operated by Bordelon Marine of Lockport, La., and chartered by Baker Hughes of Houston.

In a Jan. 23 news release, the U.S. Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement (BSEE) reported a fire on the platform that was extinguished by vessels in the area. The agency said rig operator Energy XXI of Houston conducted an emergency shutdown of the three wells that were producing oil there. Gas bubbles intermittently rose to the surface, the BSEE said, but no other pollution was observed.

Connor Bordelon took on water after the impact but was able to proceed to Port Fourchon. Damage to the OSV was estimated at $300,000, according to Petty Officer 3rd Class Carlos Vega, spokesman for the U.S. Coast Guard’s Eighth District.

“There was damage to the port/starboard bow hull plating, port bow deck railing, hull penetration in the vicinity of the No. 3 and No. 4 ballast tanks, and various damage along the port side of the vessel beneath the waterline,” Vega said in an email to Professional Mariner.

Vega said the platform, ST 27 IA, “collapsed into the water upon allision.” The gulf is 50 feet deep at the site. Vega confirmed the BSEE report that there had been a fire, but he said it was not known who extinguished it. 

“It was initially reported that the vessel Betty Pfankuch was on scene,” Vega said, referring to the 292-foot platform supply vessel operated by Aries Marine Corp. of Lafayette, La. Aries did not return calls for comment about whether the PSV rendered assistance.

Vega said the platform was lit at the time but that visibility was poor — 4 nm in rain. Winds were gusting up to 24 knots and seas were 1 to 3 feet, according to data from a National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration buoy in South Timbalier Block 52.

Vega said it had not been determined if weather conditions were a factor in the incident, which remains under investigation by the Coast Guard and the BSEE. Eileen Angelico, a spokeswoman for the BSEE, said the agency could not provide information beyond what it released in January until its investigation is complete.

Bordelon Marine and Energy XXI did not respond to requests for comment. No injuries were reported among the 20 crewmembers on Connor Bordelon.

By Professional Mariner Staff