The Capsizing of Seacor Power in the Gulf of Mexico
On April 13, 2021, one of Seacor’s vessels, a lift boat known as Seacor Power, was involved in a serious boat accident just off the coast of Louisiana. That day, the Gulf area was hit by severe weather. Despite rough conditions, the Seacor Power disembarked on a 100-mile journey to deliver supplies to a Talos Energy platform.
Just a few hours after leaving, the Seacor Power capsized about 8 miles from off Port Fourchon. The U.S. coast guard and nearby civilian vessels responded to help pull survivors from the water. A total of six crew members were pulled from the water alive, and one, the vessel’s captain, was found dead. Immediately, the search began for 12 additional missing crew members using boats, helicopters, and airplanes. Meanwhile, a section of the Seacor Power’s hull was visible, jetting out from the water in the same location that it turned over.
By April 15, a dive team had been brought to the area to search the vessel for bodies and, in the worst-case scenario, recover the bodies of those trapped in the lift boat as it capsized. However, conditions were still too volatile to safely send divers to search the wreckage of Seacor Power. While the Coast Guard attempted to shield the smaller dive boats with large vessels, attempts to reach the overturned jack-up barge were futile. To give any survivors inside the vessel hope, coast guardsmen threw weighted lines against the hull of Seacor Power.
That same day, the Coast Guard declared the Seacor Power a “mass marine casualty” incident. Typically, this term is used when an offshore accident involves six or more deaths. However, officials stated they were using this label because the Seacor Power weighs more than 100 tons and sustained over $2 million in damage.
On April 16, a second body was recovered from the water. It was spotted by a helicopter, approximately 33 miles from the scene of Seacor Power’s capsizing. On the same day, divers hoped to enter the boat to look for survivors. Technical obstacles and severe weather continued to make this impossible. Yet, they remained hopeful that the 11 people who might still be trapped on board found air pockets that would help them survive until help arrived.
The U.S. Coast Guard ceased its rescue operations on Monday, April 19.
However, private divers as well as volunteers from the United Cajun Navy continued to look for any survivors or victims of the accident. By April 21, a third body had been recovered 60 miles from the accident scene and the bodies of three other crew members had been pulled from the wreckage by divers. The discoveries brought the number of confirmed dead to six.
On Monday, April 27—nearly two weeks after the accident—volunteers from the United Cajun Navy had found debris from the Seacor Power. Specifically, searchers located several life jackets and helmets with markings that identified them as being from the capsized lift boat. The discovery provided hope that they were closer to discovering what happened to the missing crew members.
Why Was the Seacor Power Sent Out During a Storm?
Lift boats are incredibly useful. Far from graceful, they resemble small drilling rigs and can travel to platforms to deliver supplies, assist with construction, and accomplish other tasks, The vessels have three legs that can reach the seabed to provide a safe and stable connection to the platform they’re assisting. The Seacor Power was able to operate at depths of 195 feet. It could also carry a crew of 12, 36 passengers, and 2 “special personnel.”
While robust tools, lift boats aren’t designed to handle extreme weather such as seen on the day the Seacor Power flipped over. In fact, David Berg, a naval architect who designs lift boats like the Seacor Power, told reporters that the vessels can't withstand gusts of 80 mph while floating and higher winds if they’re standing on the seabed.
On the day the Seacor Power set out toward the Talos platform, it encountered winds between 80 and 90 mph. One vessel off the coast of Louisiana even recorded wind speeds of 117 mph on that day. These facts make one thing clear: the Seacor Power was out of its element and should not have been at sea on April 13, 2021.
The NTSB’s Preliminary Report About the Seacor Power
On May 18, 2021, just a month after the Seacor Power capsized, the NTSB released a preliminary report about the incident. It confirmed that the liftboat had left port at approximately 1:30 p.m. and encountered severe weather once reaching open water approximately two hours later. It revealed that, as conditioned worsened, the vessel’s crew attempted to lower its legs to increase stabilization during the storm. As the legs lowered, a crew member at the helm attempted to turn the boat into the wind, causing it to tip over.
While the report confirmed that an early-morning weather report predicted fairly calm weather, it also revealed that conditions had drastically changed by the time the Seacor Power was making its way through open water. The NTSB confirmed that nearby vessels recorded windspeeds of 80 knots and seas that were between 10 and 12 feet.
Who Is Liable for the Seacor Power Lift Boat Capsizing Accident?
Who is liable for the Seacor Power's capsizing accident depends on who played a factor in allowing the vessel to sail into conditions it wasn’t designed to handle. Currently, the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) is investigating the incident and will determine who made the decision to send out the lift boat. While it’s likely Seacor will have some responsibility for sending its lift boat out, resulting in both catastrophic injury and wrongful death, it’s yet to be determined if other companies, such as Talos Energy, played any role in the accident.
Help Is Available from Our Seacor Lift Boat Injury & Wrongful Death Lawyers
If your loved one was on the Seacor Power lift boat when it capsized, you and your family deserve answers from the people who should have prevented your suffering. At Arnold & Itkin, our Louisiana offshore lawyers have a reputation for taking on some of the largest maritime cases in history and securing the justice that clients need.
When the El Faro sunk because it was recklessly sailed into a hurricane, our Louisiana maritime attorneys were there to fight for the answers the widows of crew members deserved. After the Deepwater Horizon exploded and triggered one of the worst maritime disasters in history, over a third of the rig’s crew turned to us for help. In both instances, we didn’t just find answers for our clients—we fought hard until they got record-setting results.
For us, setting records means helping rebuild the lives of those who’ve experienced the unthinkable. We never back down from a challenge, we never accept excuses, and we make sure families find a way to move forward.
No matter what.
Call Arnold & Itkin for help. We’ve faced some of the largest companies in the offshore industry, and we’re ready to fight for you. The consultation is free when you call (888) 493-1629.