Bow Of Seacor Power Raised, Moved To MARS

Donjon-SMIT, the salvage contractor charged with raising the wrecked lift boat Seacor Power and transporting it ashore, successfully raised the bow section of the vessel July 10 and moved it by barge to Modern American Recycling Services Inc.’s (MARS) facility in Houma, La.

The vessel capsized south of the Louisiana coast the afternoon of April 13 in severe weather. The Seacor Power was on its way from Louisiana’s Port Fourchon to a worksite on the east side of the mouth of the Mississippi River. Nineteen personnel were on board, including nine vessel crew members, two galley staff and eight oilfield workers. Six were rescued by good Samaritan and Coast Guard mariners. The bodies of six others have been recovered, while seven remain missing.

The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), which is investigating the incident, released a preliminary report May 18 that offered insight into the hours leading up to the accident. The Seacor Power, part of Seacor Marine LLC’s fleet of “jack up” boats, left from Port Fourchon about 1:30 p.m. the day of the accident. A weather forecast from 7 a.m. that day called for 9- to 12-knot winds and 3-foot seas that afternoon. However, as the vessel motored eastward, a squall brought more than 80-knot winds and 10- to 12-foot seas.

“Visibility dropped, and the winds increased significantly,” the NTSB stated in its preliminary report, “so crew decided to lower the Seacor Power’s legs to the seafloor to hold the vessel in position until the storm passed. When the legs began to descend, the crew member at the helm attempted to turn the vessel into the winds.”

Before that maneuver was complete, winds overwhelmed and capsized the vessel.

The Coast Guard and a fleet of commercial vessels battled severe weather April 13 and in the days that followed in an attempt to locate missing personnel. Official rescue efforts went on until sundown April 19, with volunteers continuing to search the area in the days that followed.

The removal of the bow section of the Seacor Power is just the latest step in a multi-phase salvage effort. Offshore, salvage crews are conducting acoustic surveys of the stern and accommodation sections of the vessel, which will inform the rigging configuration for removing the stern section. Once the stern is moved ashore, crews will focus on raising and removing the accommodations section.

The Coast Guard continues to enforce a safety zone extending one nautical mile around the site of the wrecked Seacor Power. In addition, the Federal Aviation Administration has established flight restrictions covering a 5-nautical-mile radius and a 2,000-foot minimum altitude. 

“These restrictions are in place to ensure the safety of salvage crews working at the wreckage site and the MARS Inc. facility, as well as boaters who could place themselves in danger by transiting through an active work site where debris and other underwater obstructions such as anchor wires, mooring ropes and navigational buoys may be present,” the Coast Guard said.