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. Lafourche Parish President Archie Chaisson III confirmed that 18 people were on board before the Seacor Power flipped over in rough seas.
“The hope is that we can bring the other 12 home alive,” Chaisson said Wednesday morning. Time is of the essence in the rescue efforts, as ‘we have the potential for some rough weather around lunchtime’, he added.
Warnings of bad weather
The National Weather Service in New Orleans had been warning of bad weather offshore, including a special marine warning issued before 16:00hrs on Tuesday that predicted steep waves and winds greater than 50 knots (58 mph). The Seacor Power crew sent an emergency distress signal a half-hour later, at 16:30hrs, according to the Coast Guard, which then issued an urgent marine broadcast that prompted multiple private vessels in the area to respond, saving four of the crewmembers, the agency said. Coast Guard crews in boats rescued another two people. A search plane also joined the effort, miles south of Port Fourchon.
Offshore platform flipped in rough sea
The Seacor Power, a bulky vessel 129 feet (39 meters) long at its beam, is designed to become an offshore platform by dropping three towering legs down to the sea floor. It flipped over in the high wind and rough seas. At one point, it would be seen on video with one of its legs pointed awkwardly skyward as rescuers searched in the heaving water.
The storm also overturned other vessels and damaged property from Louisiana’s shore up to New Orleans. The Coast Guard warned in a Facebook post that the storms caused ‘significant hazards to life and property’.