PORT FOURCHON, La. (KLFY) — While the U.S. Coast Guard continues to search for survivors from Tuesday’s ship capsizing in the Gulf of Mexico, local families have confirmed to News 10 that there were Acadiana residents on board.
Jay Guevara of Lafayette, Gregory Walcott of Abbeville, and Quinon Pitre of the Pitreville/Church Point area are confirmed as three of the 19 crewmembers aboard the Seacor Power when it capsized in hurricane-force winds Tuesday. One person has been confirmed dead. Six people have been rescued from the waters. Another 12 remain missing.
Coast Guard Capt. Will Watson said winds were 80 to 90 mph and seas were 7 to 9 feet when the Seacor Power overturned. “It’s challenging under any circumstance,” he said.
The bulky vessel with three long legs that can be lowered to the seafloor to make it an offshore platform flipped over Tuesday afternoon miles south of Port Fourchon. At one point, video showed the massive ship — 129-feet (39-meters) long at its beam — with one leg pointed awkwardly skyward as rescuers searched the heaving water.
One crew member was found dead on the surface of the water, Watson said at a news conference Wednesday. Asked about the prospects of the missing crew, he said: “We are hopeful. We can’t do this work if you’re not optimistic, if you’re not hopeful.”
Lafourche Parish President Archie Chaisson III said time is critical in the rescue effort because “we have the potential for some rough weather around lunchtime.”
“The hope is that we can bring the other 12 home alive,” Chaisson said.
The search involved at least four Coast Guard vessels, four private ones and Coast Guard airplanes based in Corpus Christi, Texas, and Mobile, Alabama. A Coast Guard helicopter also was being used.
Relatives of the missing crew members rushed to the port from their homes nearby, seeking any information they could get, Chaisson said.
“We continue to pray for the … men who were on that vessel as well as their families,” Chaisson said.
The company that owns the ship, Houston-based Seacor Marine, set up a private hotline to share information with families of those onboard, Chaisson said. An employee who answered the phone Wednesday morning said he had no immediate information he could share.
The National Weather Service in New Orleans had advised of bad weather offshore, including a special marine warning issued before 4 p.m. Tuesday that predicted steep waves and winds greater than 50 knots (58 mph).
The Coast Guard received an emergency distress signal at 4:30 p.m. and issued an urgent marine broadcast that prompted multiple private vessels in the area to respond, saving four crew members, the agency said. Coast Guard crews rescued another two people.
The Associated Press contributed to this post.