The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) released a preliminary report on Tuesday about the Seacor Power’s capsizing. The report comes as the NTSB continues its investigation into the deadly accident.
Information in this report is subject to change as investigators continue their work. However, it offers a glimpse into the direction that investigative efforts are heading.
What the Seacor Power Preliminary Report Reveals
The report confirms much of what has already been released by officials and the press while also filling in details that haven’t been certain since the April 13, 2021 accident. At the time of the liftboat’s capsizing, there were 19 crew members on board. Six of these people were rescued and six were found dead, either inside the boat or in the water. Seven people remain unaccounted for and are presumed dead after extensive search and rescue efforts from the Coast Guard, the United Cajun Navy, and a fleet of volunteer vessels.
According to the NTSB, Seacor Power left Port Fourchon at about 1:30 p.m. to deliver supplies to an oil platform in Main Pass Block 138 in the Gulf of Mexico. A weather report was emailed to the vessel at 7:02 a.m., five hours before it left port, that predicted winds of 9 to 12 knots and 3-foot seas.
By 3:30 p.m., Seacor Power started navigating the open waters of the Gulf. About that time, the report says that a squall—a term used to describe the sudden occurrence of strong weather—passed over the boat. Conditions caused visibility to reduce drastically. Around the time of the squall, nearby vessels reported heavy rain, building seas, and winds of 80 knots.
As the liftboat was battered by increasingly strong winds, the crew decided to lower its legs to the seafloor for stabilization. As the legs were lowering, a crewmember at the helm tried to turn the Seacor Power into the wind. During the turn, the boat tipped toward the starboard side and capsized.
These details confirm what many had guessed by looking at the scene of the accident. The Seacor Power remains partially submerged, with one corner of it being held above the water by one of its legs. Its exposed hull tantalized families for days with the hope that their loved ones had found pockets of air and were awaiting rescue. No survivors were found inside the vessel.
The NTSB reports that several people on the Seacor Power were able to escape to the port side of the vessel’s deckhouse immediately after it flipped. As they waited for rescuers to reach them, they were battered by winds of 30 to 40 knots and waves that were between 10 to 12 feet in height. While six were rescued by nearby civilian and Coast Guard vessels, other crewmembers were swept away. The report also revealed that one survivor sustained a serious injury.
The preliminary report confirmed that the NTSB is working with the Coast Guard, Seacor Marine, the National Weather Service, and the American Bureau of Shipping to investigate the incident. Currently, salvage operations are underway. Crews have managed to drain the overturned vessel of its fuels, clearing the way to begin extracting it from the water. Once that process is complete, the NTSB will be able to continue its investigation.
Our liftboat accident lawyers will continue following details about this accident as they're released.