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Rough weather likely to blame in deadly SEACOR Power capsizing

NTSB files preliminary report on mid-April liftboat accident off Louisiana coast

The National Transportation Safety Board released its preliminary report Tuesday regarding the deadly capsizing of the SEACOR Power liftboat. The boat capsized on April 13 about 8 miles off the Louisiana coast.

According to the NTSB, there were 19 people on the vessel at the time of the accident.

Six people were rescued by the Coast Guard and good Samaritan vessels, six people died in the accident and seven were never found.

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

The report said that the SEACOR Power left Port Fourchon, Louisiana, at about 1:30 p.m. CT April 13, heading to the oil and gas lease area Main Pass Block 138 in the Gulf of Mexico.

A weather report emailed to the crew at 7:02 a.m. that day predicted 3-foot seas for that afternoon, along with winds of 10 to 14 mph (9 to 12 knots) from the southeast.

NTSB investigators said that at about 3:30 p.m., as the SEACOR Power entered the Gulf, a squall hit the liftboat.

Visibility decreased and winds increased significantly. The crew decided to lower the SEACOR Power’s legs to the seafloor to hold the vessel in position until the storm passed, according to the NTSB report.

Related: Search ends for SEACOR Power crew

The report also revealed that a crew member 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 said several crew members were able to escape onto the exposed port side of the SEACOR Power deckhouse.

High winds and seas of 10 to 12 feet prevented rescue teams from reaching those who remained on the liftboat, according to the NTSB. 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 of the owner and charterer, vessel inspectors and surveyors, as well as search and rescue responders, according to a news release issued by the NTSB.

The NTSB said once the SEACOR Power is salvaged, its investigators intend to return to inspect the vessel and collect further evidence.

Related: Crews finish fuel removal after fatal SEACOR Power capsizing

The Coast Guard, SEACOR Marine Holdings LLC (NYSE: SMHI), the National Weather Service and the American Bureau of Shipping are also involved in the investigation.

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.