Three offshore oil vessels sink within three days off Louisiana

Three offshore oil vessels sank in the Gulf of Mexico in as many days in May.

The Coast Guard is investigating the string of sinkings that occurred May 8 to May 10 off the Louisiana coast. In two of the incidents, vessels struck the sides of offshore platforms during routine operations. There were no injuries or deaths in any of the accidents.

On May 8, the 70-foot-long, 98-gross-ton tug Mathilde sank in 6- to 8-foot seas in Eugene Island Block 247 after the vessel began taking on water in its rudder room. The four-person crew aboard Mathilde, which is owned by Louisiana Tug Service, Cut Off, La., transferred to a nearby vessel, according to Lt. Cmdr. Bill Drelling, senior investigating officer at the Marine Safety Office in Morgan City, La.

The following day, the 98-foot-long, 98.8-grt crew boat April was transferring potable water to a platform in Eugene Island Block 247 when its port side struck the rig. The vessel, owned by Fleet Operators based in Morgan City, began taking on water in its engine room and then sank.

“The April bumped the platform in a swell. Seas were about 6 to 8 feet,” Drelling said.

On May 10, Mr. C, a 102-foot-long, 99-grt crew boat sank about 60 miles south of Abbeville, La. The vessel had backed up to an oil platform to pick someone up. Just after departing from the rig, the boat’s bilge alarm sounded, indicating it was taking on water in the engine room.

It is not clear what caused the vessel to start taking on water. “There was no sign, no sudden impact,” Drelling said.

In response to the alarm, Mr. C, which is owned by Gulf Logistics of Larose, La., headed for a nearby platform. Crewmembers on the oil rig lowered the platform’s basket and retrieved three of the vessel’s deck hands. Mr. C was unable to tie off to the platform after it lost power and began to drift. Still onboard, the master and mate deployed life rafts and were picked up shortly thereafter by a U.S. Coast Guard helicopter.

By Professional Mariner Staff