PORT FOURCHON, La. (KLFY) — The investigation of the SEACOR Power, a liftboat that capsized in the Gulf of Mexico in April 2021 resulting in 13 deaths, has been closed by the National Transportation Safety Board.
The board’s final report absolved the captain and the vessel’s owner, Falcon Global Offshore II, LLC, of responsibility for the sinking of the boat about 7 miles off the coast of Port Fourchon.
“We found that the captain’s decision to get underway on the day of the casualty was
reasonable and was not influenced by commercial pressure,” the report concluded. “However, weather information that SEACOR Marine provided to the SEACOR Power’s crew was insufficient for making weather-related decisions about the liftboat’s operation.”
The report, which was released in a virtual meeting of the NTSB on Tuesday, found that neither mechanical or electrical systems, watertight integrity, crew experience and qualifications nor fatigue were safety issues in the sinking.
The report also exonerated Capt. David Ledet of any wrongdoing. Ledet was one of six people whose body was recovered after the disaster. Seven others were never found and are presumed dead.
“Given the conditions and the marine weather information available to the captain at the time the liftboat left Port Fourchon, the captain’s decision to get underway on the day of the casualty was reasonable,” the report read. “Although the captain was not aware of the severe thunderstorm watch, it likely would not have changed his decision.”
High winds and heavy seas, combined with underwater and overhead obstructions, prevented both surface and air resources from getting close enough to the vessel to rescue personnel directly from the wreck, which contributed to the loss of life, the report said.
The NTSB cited “inaccurate information about the SEACOR Power’s location provided to the
Coast Guard by a SEACOR Marine employee” as contributing to a delay in the response to the vessel’s capsizing.
Among the report’s recommendations was advising the U.S. Coast Guard to “Modify restricted-service liftboat stability regulations to require greater stability for newly constructed restricted-service liftboats,” and SEACOR Marine to “Conduct a comprehensive review of your active fleet to ensure your vessels are being operated strictly within the limits specified in operating manuals, stability documentation, and other required guidance.”
It also reiterated a previous recommendation that the Coast Guard “require that all personnel employed on vessels in coastal, Great Lakes, and ocean service be provided with a personal locator beacon to enhance their chances of survival.”