A 129-foot long commercial lift boat ship has capsized off the Louisiana coast on Tuesday, 13 April, resulting in the death of 1. The US Coast Guard has rescued 6 people in its huge rescue operation encompassing a large area bigger than Rhode Island but still, 12 people are missing.
The incident happened when the offshore oilfield ship capsized in hurricane weather, 8 miles off south of Grand Isle in Louisiana. The Coast Guard started the rescue operation using a medium-sized 45foot response boat crew and aircraft. They were joined by multiple other boats and rescued 6 people.
“One worker’s body was recovered Wednesday and six people were rescued Tuesday after the Seacor Power overturned Tuesday afternoon in the Gulf of Mexico”, the Coast Guard revealed.
The Coast Guard covered 1440 square miles in a search that went on for 40hours as darkness and bad weather interrupted the operation. Till Wednesday evening none of the missing people could be traced, revealed Petty Officer Carlos Galarza.
The winds went at a speed of 80-90 mph and the wave rose as high as 7-9feet at the time of the incident, revealed Coast Guard Capt. Will Watson.
“That’s challenging under any circumstance. We don’t know the degree to which that contributed to what happened, but we do know those are challenging conditions to be out in the maritime environment”, said Watson.
A jackup rig was used by an offshore platform to lift boats out of the water as its 3 long legs help to get down to the seafloor. However, it flipped on Tuesday afternoon south of Port Fourchon which is a major base for the U.S. oil and gas industry.
“One worker was found dead on the surface of the water”, Watson said.
When journalists inquired about the missing workers Watson said that they are hopeful but they can’t do the work without optimism and hope. Divers were summoned on Wednesday afternoon to look for the missing.
Marion Cuyler, the fiancée of crane operator Chaz Morales spoke to her fiance while she waited with the family of other missing workers at a Port Fourchon fire station near the helicopter landing site.
“He said that they were jacking down and they were about to head out, and I’m like, ‘The weather’s too bad. You need to come home.’ And he’s like, ‘I wish I could.”
This ship had a capacity of carrying 12 crew, 36 passengers and 2 special personnel.
“We are deeply saddened by the news of the vessel capsizing and are working closely with the U.S. Coast Guard and local authorities to support all efforts to locate our valued team members and partners,” read a statement issued by the Houston-based company Seacor Marine which owns the ship.
The Coast Guard is investigating the matter to determine the exact reason for the accident The ship was on its way to the Main Pass off southeast Louisiana from Port Fourchon around 1 pm on Tuesday when the incident happened.
“We did have some weather reports yesterday that there would be some challenging weather. But this level of weather was not necessarily anticipated,” said Watson.
The New Orleans based National Weather Service had issued a marine warning before 4 pm on Tuesday which predicted high waves and 50 knots high wind speed.
“The Coast Guard received a distress message from a good Samaritan at 4:30 p.m. and issued an urgent marine broadcast that prompted multiple private vessels in the area to respond, saving four people”, the agency said.
The Coast Guard further rescued 2 people. Videos showed that the ship with one of its legs pointed upward while the rescue team searched for the missing people.
The Coast Guard believes that the vessel went down in a microburst while meteorologists in the National Weather Service termed it an offshore derecho, a straight windstorm.
“This was not a microburst — just a broad straight-line wind event that swept over a huge area,” Phil Grigsby, a meteorologist at the Institute said.
“The weather service’s nearest official gauge, at Grand Isle, showed about 30 minutes of 75 mph (120 km/h) winds, followed by hours of winds over 50 mph (80 km/h)”, said Phil.
A low-pressure wake low storm further amplified the initiate storm making it last longer.
“It was the strongest wake low I’ve seen in almost 18 years here,” he said.
Aaron Callais, a shrimp boat captain, revealed how it all started with water spouts that buffeted his father’s boat, the Ramblin’ Cajun.
“There was nothing we could do. One minute we were facing north, the next south, then east and west. Things were flying in the cabin”, said Callais.
He posted a video of the being battered by the wind on Facebook while he lamented the situation to his dad and the rest of the family.
“Letting him know the situation, that it wasn’t looking good. We didn’t know if we were going to make it out”, said Callais.