Salvage of Seacor Power will be Managed by USCG Unified Command
A week after the U.S. Coast Guard suspended the search for the missing crewmembers of the liftboat Seacor Power that capsized off the Louisiana Coast, the Coast Guard announced the initial plans to oversee the salvage of the vessel. The Seacor Power remains partially submerged approximately seven miles off Port Fourchon.
The Coast Guard announced that they have established a unified command to oversee the next phase of the response to the Seacor Power. The command consists of Coast Guard Capt. Wade Russell and Joseph Ruiz, a general manager with Seacor Marine.
The unified command will be responsible for the salvage and wreck removal. Previous reports suggested that the vessel would be brought back to shore where investigators would examine the ship and its equipment as part of the effort to identify the cause of the accident on April 13. The vessel capsized during a severe storm in the Gulf of Mexico killing six crewmembers and leaving another seven unaccounted for despite extensive searches in the Gulf of Mexico. The U.S. Coast Guard and private boaters rescued six crewmembers in the hours after the accident.
As part of the salvage effort, the unified command will also be overseeing the safe removal of fuel and oil from the Seacor Power. The Coast Guard reports that the 234-foot Seacor Power could carry a maximum of 35,000 gallons of fuel, lube oil, hydraulic, and waste oil. They said that to date there are no reported impacts to wildlife, and responders will continue to assess as work progresses. Also, none of the underground oil lines in the area were compromised and are being monitored.
An approximate one-mile safety zone has also been established around the scene. This is to include a Federal Aviation Administration temporary flight restriction, and a marine safety information bulletin is being broadcasted.
Coast Guard inspectors also visited a sister vessel to the Seacor Power, the Seacor Eagle, which is currently in dry dock in Houma, Louisiana for maintenance and repairs. The crew and vessel was inspected by Coast Guard marine inspectors for readiness and approval to be used with the salvage operation for the Seacor Power.
Concurrent with the salvage operation both the National Transportation Safety Board and the U.S. Coast Guard have opened investigations into the accident. Under the rules defining investigations, this has been qualified as a major marine accident due to the number of lives lost and the size and value of the vessel. The loss of the Seacor Power is the most serious accident in the U.S. Gulf offshore sector since the Deepwater Horizon blowout in 2010.
The Coast Guard’s efforts to begin to organize salvage comes as private search efforts have continued in the Gulf of Mexico and along the coastline. The all-volunteer United Cajun Navy began its efforts when the Coast Guard announced the official search was being suspended while the owners of the vessel, Seacor Power, also continued their dive search of the vessel and the surrounding area.
In recent days, the UCN volunteers have retrieved various debris from the vessel. This includes 12 unused life jackets marked with the liftboat’s name as well as a life ring and hardhats. However, they too have so far been unable to locate the missing crewmembers.