PORT FOURCHON, La. (KLFY) – As the National Transportation Safety Board and the U.S. Coast Guard investigate this disaster, the Coast Guard and Seacor are moving forward with a plan to remove the lift boat from the water, and its hazardous contents, to prevent any environmental pollution.
The disaster is categorized as a “major marine casualty.” It’s defined as having the loss of six lives or more, and the potential for environmental damage.
“We need the weather to be on our side,” said Petty Officer 1st Class Nicole Groll. “It plays a large factor in the safety of the divers who go down there to work in the current. We need to make sure they stay safe.”
The capsized lift boat is approximately eight miles south of Port Fourchon. It’s 234 feet long. That’s nearly as long as a football field. It can carry up to 35,000 gallons of fuel, as well as a variety of oils used for work on the rig.
The Seacor Eagle, sister vessel to the Seacor Power, will be used in the salvage operation.
“Once that is complete, we will move to the next phase. More equipment will be brought in, and the vessel will be taken out of the water. The vessel will be brought back to shore for the investigative piece,” said Groll.
Groll says the accident area is restricted. A one-mile safety zone prohibits anyone from approaching by air or on the water. Groll says no one has compromised the safety zone.
“If someone comes by and disrupts operations, we have lives underwater that could be put into danger. We do not want that to happen,” said Groll.
This is the most serious accident in the Gulf since the Deepwater Horizon accident in 2010. Groll says underground oil lines are not damaged, but they will continue to monitor.
Groll also says there’s a plan if a missing crew members is found on site during the salvage operation. She says the operation will immediately stop. The proper authorities will be notified, and the crew member will be brought back to shore.