The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) on Tuesday published a preliminary report as part of its ongoing investigation into the fatal capsizing of the liftboat Seacor Power last month near Port Fourchon, La.
There were 19 people on board when the U.S.-flagged Seacor Power overturned in extreme weather conditions in the Gulf of Mexico. Six people were rescued by the Coast Guard and Good Samaritan vessels, six people died in the accident and seven remain missing.
According to the NTSB, the vessel 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.
NTSB investigators learned that at about 3:30 p.m., as the 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 the 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 the 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 the Seacor Power, representatives for the owner and charterer, vessel inspectors and surveyors, and search and rescue responders.
When the Seacor Power is salvaged NTSB investigators intend to return to inspect the vessel and collect further evidence.