As the focus of the capsized Seacor Power shifts from search and rescue to recovery of the remaining eight crew members, one looming question an investigation may probe is the decision to leave the port.
At the time it capsized in rough waters on April 13, the lift boat had been commissioned to service an oil rig owned by Talos Energy, a company spokesman confirmed. Asked about its role in the call to depart Port Fouchon amid weather advisories, spokesman Brian Groves said Talos Engery had no role. He said there was no directive from Talos Energy for the Seacor Power to arrive that day.
- “The Seacor Power was in port for service and inspections for several days prior to its departure. The vessel was not at a Talos facility and was fully under the command of its captain and Seacor Marine,” the company said in a statement provided by Groves. “Talos continues to offer our full support to Seacor and the U.S. Coast Guard Unified Command with the ongoing response effort. Like everyone in the offshore community, we are heartbroken and praying for everyone affected by this tragedy.”
Port Fourchon Executive Director Chet Chiasson said the port also played no role in the decision to leave the port. Port Fourchon is what he called a “landlord port.” The port built out the infrastructure on land and over water, but companies the lease space at Port Fourchon operate out of there on their own.
“They do not need to notify the port of when they’re leaving or when they’re coming in. All of that discussion and planning is made between the vessel operators and the oil companies or the other service companies, themselves, that they are working together with,” Chiasson said.
The arrangement is unlike some other ports that do play a role in river traffic, Chiasson said, like the Port of New Orleans where pilots need to navigate strong currents of the Mississippi River, or the Port of Morgan City, where the U.S. Coast Guard monitors a vessel traffic system.
WDSU reached out to Seacor Marine Monday afternoon about the call to leave the port and did not hear back. The company issued a statement Monday, however, saying its focus is on the recovery of the eight missing crew members and support for their families and the divers assisting in the recovery efforts.
See the statement in full:
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.
“People are doing everything they can to try to have some closure for such for these families,” Chiasson said. “We certainly pray for all involved as they continue to struggle with, I think, the realities that we’re starting to see here.”
The U.S. Coast Guard has said Seacor Marine confirmed the vessel left Port Fourchon with 19 crew members on board about 1:30 p.m. April 13, and distress signals were sent about three hours later. 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. The Coast Guard said the severity of the conditions was unexpected. Six people were rescued that night by the Coast Guard and good Samaritan vessels
The Lafourche Parish Coroner has identified those recovered from the Gulf of Mexico at the site where the boat capsized more than seven miles off Port Fourchon. They are Lawrence J. Warren, 36, of Terrytown, who was recovered Sunday; Anthony Hartford, 55, of New Orleans and James Wallingsford, 55, of Gilbert, both recovered Friday; Ernest Williams, 69, of Arnaudville, recovered Thursday; and the crew’s captain, David Ledet, 63, of Thibodeaux, recovered Wednesday.