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Coast Guard coordinates cleanup after deadly SEACOR Power capsizing

Newly formed Unified Command overseeing wreckage cleanup and assessing environmental harm off Louisiana coast

Coast Guard crew searching for missing crew members of the capsized SEACOR Power lift boat April 13, 2021. (Photo: U.S. Coast Guard)

The Coast Guard announced Monday that it has formed a Unified Command to remove wreckage in the wake of the deadly SEACOR Power capsizing.

The commercial lift boat capsized April 13, 8 miles south of Port Fourchon, Louisiana. It was contracted to Tallus Energy to conduct oil well work.

Related: News alert: Coast Guard searching for crew of capsized commercial vessel

Of the 19 passengers and crew on the SEACOR Power, six were rescued. Five were recovered deceased and eight remain missing. Early last week the Coast Guard called off the search for the missing crew members after looking for them for a cumulative 175 hours, covering more than 9,000 square miles.

Nicole Groll, the Coast Guard’s public information officer for the Unified Command, told FreightWaves it’s virtually impossible to tell how long it will take to pull the SEACOR Power out of the water.

“It’s going to take as long as it needs to in order to make sure the responders who are doing the work are safe, and we minimize any type of environmental impacts that might happen,” Groll said.

Coast Guard marine inspectors and a SEACOR Eagle crew member verify the battery in a life ring light during an inspection April 23. The vessel will assist in the wreckage removal of the capsized SEACOR Power.

The Unified Command is made up of representatives from the Coast Guard, led by Capt. Wade Russell, and SEACOR Marine Holdings Inc. (NYSE: SMHI), led by Joseph Ruiz, a general manager with the company.

The 234-foot vessel was carrying a maximum potential of 35,000 gallons of fuel, lube oil, hydraulic oil and waste oil. Groll said the Coast Guard has not received reports of detrimental impacts to local wildlife and hasn’t detected any fuel or oil leaks. Underground oil lines have not been compromised and crews continue to assess the situation.

“We’re monitoring for sheen,” Groll added. “The oil and fuel removal has not started yet. We’re working to get the equipment out there.”

Related: Search ends for Seacor Power crew

There is an approximate 1-mile safety zone around the scene, which includes a Federal Aviation Administration temporary flight restriction. The Coast Guard and the National Transportation Safety Board are investigating the accident in which weather likely played a part. According to the Coast Guard, the Seacor Power encountered wind gusts of 80 to 90 mph, seas of 7 to 9 feet and very low visibility when it capsized en route to Grand Pass, Louisiana. The investigation could take 12 to 24 months.

The Coast Guard has called in reinforcements to help the Unified Command. Coast Guard marine inspectors looked over the SEACOR Eagle lift vessel Friday for its eventual use in the environmental response. SEACOR Eagle was in dry dock for repairs and the inspectors checked the vessel to ensure it’s in proper condition.

Click here for more FreightWaves articles by Nick Austin.

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Nick Austin

Nick is a meteorologist with 20 years of forecasting and broadcasting experience. He was nominated for a Midsouth Emmy for his coverage during a 2008 western Tennessee tornado outbreak. He received his Bachelor of Science in Meteorology from Florida State University, as well as a Bachelor of Science in Management from the Georgia Tech. Nick is a member of the American Meteorological Society and National Weather Association. As a member of the weather team at WBBJ-TV in Jackson, Tennessee, Nick was nominated for a Mid-South Emmy for live coverage of a major tornado outbreak in February 2008. As part of the weather team at WRCB-TV in Chattanooga, Tennessee, Nick shared the Chattanooga Times-Free Press Best of the Best award for “Best Weather Team” eight consecutive years.