Coast Guard will suspend search and rescue effort at sunset for missing mariners

It has been almost a week since a boat with 19 crew members on board capsized in the Gulf of Mexico.

Since then, six crew members were rescued, and the bodies of five members were recovered. Eight crew members still remain unaccounted for.

The Coast Guard, National Transportation Safety Board, and Seacor Marine provided an update Monday where they announced that they will be suspending its search and rescue effort at sunset for the remaining eight missing mariners.

The Coast Guard said that the investigation will now shift to investigating how the accident happened and how to prevent it in the future.

Coast Guard boat and aircrews, local agency crews and good Samaritans searched for a cumulative 175 hours, covering over 9,200 square nautical miles, according to the Coast Guard.

“We extend our appreciation to everyone who volunteered to assist during the search effort. Suspending a search is one of the toughest decisions the Coast Guard has to make,” said Capt. Will Watson, commander of Coast Guard Sector New Orleans. “Our crews searched continuously over the past six days with the hope of bringing the missing crewmembers home to their loved ones. I would like to extend my deepest and most sincere condolences to the families, friends and loved ones — all those impacted by this terrible tragedy. I know that this is an immensely difficult time for you all, and for the entire maritime community.”

Seacor issued the following statement regarding the suspending of search and rescue operations:

“Our hearts and prayers are with our crew members, partners and the loved ones of those who were lost. We thank the U.S. Coast Guard, good Samaritan vessels, local authorities and the brave individuals who supported the search and rescue efforts, including the rescue of six crew members. Our focus is on doing all we can to recover those missing in this incident and continuing to support their families and divers in the world, who will not stop until they thoroughly search the entire vessel.”

A total of five crew members have been confirmed dead by the Lafourche Parish Coroner’s Office, and the search continues for eight crew members still missing after a boat capsized in the Gulf of Mexico on Tuesday.

In an update Monday, officials confirmed the fifth body recovered.

The LPCO identified the crew member as 36-year-old Lawrence J. Warren, of Terrytown.

The bodies of two crew members were recovered Friday after commercial divers gained access to the lift boat.

The two crew members were identified Saturday as 53-year-old Anthony Hartford, of New Orleans, and 55-year-old James Wallingsford, of Gilbert, according to the LPCO.

Two other crew members were also confirmed dead. On Thursday night, the body of 69-year-old Ernest Williams, of Arnaudville, was recovered.

On Wednesday, the body of the boat’s captain, 63-year-old David Ledet, was recovered.

Rescue operations have been ongoing since the Seacor Power capsized during strong storms with 19 crew members aboard.

Six of the crew members survived, and were rescued by Good Samaritans, the Coast Guard Cutter Glen Harris Crew and Grand Isle Crew.

The search and rescue effort continues to find nine missing crew members.

The Coast Guard says divers returned Saturday to the murky, roiling waters of the Gulf of Mexico. Petty Officer John Michelli says the search team took a break overnight because of the weather, but resumed rescue operations Saturday morning.

Day of incident:

According to the United States Coast Guard in New Orleans, a distress message from a good Samaritan at 4:28 p.m. Tuesday reported that the 129 Seacor Power had capsized about 7 nautical miles south of Port Fourchon Tuesday. At the time, the Coast Guard reported 80 to 90 mile per hour winds in the area, 7-to-9-foot seas and limited visibility. It said the severity of the conditions was unexpected.

A Coast Guard inspector described the Seacor Power as a lift boat, with 250-foot legs that tower above the hull while underway. He said the legs are used to secure the vessel to the seafloor once it reaches its destination and the hull is then jacked up to act as a work platform.

Two people jumped off and were part of the group of six mariners rescued, according to the Coast Guard.

The incident has been declared a major marine casualty.


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