Lift Boat Disaster: What Happened?

Updated: Apr. 14, 2021 at 4:44 PM CDT
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NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) - “They work kind of like a regular vessel, with propellers and shafts, when they’re going underway with their legs jacked up,” says Senior Marine Inspector, Todd Michel.

The Seacor Power lift boat left Port Fourchon with a crew of 19, around 1:30 Tuesday afternoon. Their destination was Main Pass, about 25 miles to the east.

“We did have some weather reports that would be some challenging weather, but his level of weather was not anticipated,” says Coast Guard Capt. Will Watson.

At 4:28, the Coast Guard says it received a distress call from a good Samaritan reporting the Seacor Power capsized about 7 nautical miles from Port Fourchon.

At the time, Coast Guard Capt. Will Watson says conditions were extremely poor with 80 to 90 mile per hour winds and 7 to 9-foot seas.

“There were extremely limited visibilities. Fortunately, even with those conditions, our crews were able to get on scene and respond within 30 minutes,” says Capt. Watson.

The Coast Guard and several civilian boats began searching throughout the evening. The cause of the accident is still under investigation, but Capt. Watson says Tuesday’s weather conditions were certainly a major issue, and it’s unclear why the Seacor vessel decided to go offshore.

“We’re trying to figure this out as we go. We are interviewing survivors and talking to the company,” says Capt. Watson.

The Seacor Power is a commercial lift vessel, a self-powered vessel that can lift itself out of the water. On its website, Seacor Marine says the Seacor Power could operate in up to 195 feet of water.

Using its three legs, it lifts itself out of the water.

Once arriving at an oil and gas platform, lift boats move alongside and typically perform maintenance or construction work.

“They’re mainly used for their cranes. That’s a big part of what they do offshore, lifts personnel, lifts good, and equipment onto rigs,” says Michel.

The Coast Guard says it remains committed and hopeful.

“We’re focused on the search and rescue effort more than anything right now, but those details will come out in the days and weeks ahead,” says Capt. Watson.

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