PORT FOURCHON, La. (KLFY) — After months capsized in the Gulf of Mexico, the Seacor Power is falling apart, and the salvage plan has changed. Families of those still missing fear what it could mean for their loved ones and the investigation.
A recording of the families’ last meeting with Seacor, Donjon Salvage, and the Coast Guard, explains why the lift boat is still in the water. The initial salvage plan was to take the liftboat to shore all in one piece, but almost 70 days later, salvagers say that is no longer even a possibility.
Three cranes were meant to right the Seacor Power on its keel and tow it to land in the preferred plan submitted by Donjon Marine Salvage, but a meeting between families and those in charge of recovery revealed there was never more than one crane on site. Donjon Salvage explained cracks were found that would make the preferred lift dangerous, and as preparations were extended families asked why.
“Even if the game plan changes. It’s taking too long. That boat should have been up,” one family member argued at one point from the recording of the June 9 meeting.
The weather was used to explain why the boat now will be moved in three main pieces: the bow, the stern, and accommodations. It also was used to explain why the first search for survivors took longer than the second supposedly more meticulous search for remains.
“It only took ya’ll a day and a half to do the second sweep. That’s bologna when it took seven, eight, or nine days the first sweep,” Cindy Reily, a family member of missing New Iberia crewman Dylan Daspit remarked.
Donjon Marine Senior Salvage Master Djago replied, “I mean the second sweep, we had a little bit better weather than the first period. Like I said, I was there. We had a lot of bad weather. Too much for the diving.”
Gulfcoast Humanitarian Efforts Vice President Christifer DeRouen was also at the meeting by request of Daspit’s family. He asked why cranes closer to the coast were not used, adding one was willing inside of Port Fourchon.
The crane on-site currently traveled from New Jersey according to Donjon Salvage. They also own the crane and told DeRouen by the time it arrived, the crane was not immediately needed.
“From day one nothing adds up,” DeRouen stated. “If you try and take a commonsense approach to this, there’s just a lot that doesn’t make sense.”
Later in the meeting family learned each piece of will no longer be placed on a field in Fourchon, but it will be moved to Modern American Recycling Services in Houma. There the National Transportation Safety Board will conduct its investigation and firefighters will search for possible remains under the security of the Terrebonne Parish sheriff.
Scott Daspit, the father of Dylan Daspit asked the sheriff, “Right here in front of all these people can you guarantee us a secure site that we can really, really count on you and your people to secure whatever is coming in comes directly to that particular dock for the NTSB to go over and not get mixed in with the scrap?”
Terrebonne Parish Sheriff Tim Soignet responded in part saying, “I’m going to tell you this. (If) Anybody thinks they are going to cross that line, I got an address for them. I am absolutely not tolerating anything.”
Volunteers searching for men from the beginning worry with the catastrophic damage that could have been in the ship may already be lost to the tides.
“The volunteers and myself agreed to search until the vessel came up, but at this point, we don’t if the vessel is ever going to come up,” DeRouen told News 10. “They just deserve better, and if in some crazy world this is the absolute best we could have done, obviously some things need to change.”
Salvagers told families they hoped to have the bow and stern pieces of the Seacor Power up by this weekend, but families have not seen it done. News 10 reached out to Seacor, Donjon Salvage, and the Coast Guard, but no one has answered our requests for comment.