UPDATED: SEACOR Power death toll grows

Written by Nick Blenkey
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Hopes are that some survivors may remain within lift boat.[USCG Photo]

In an update released Friday evening, the Coast Guard reports that divers from Donjon Marine Company who were diving on the capsized Seacor Power lift boat had recovered two more unresponsive people.

That brings the number of fatalities confirmed in the incident to four.

“Our deepest sympathy goes out to the family, friends and loved ones of everyone involved in this tragic incident,” said Capt. Will Watson, commander of Coast Guard Sector New Orleans. “We are using every asset available to us to continue our search efforts.”

The Donjon divers, hired by the owner of the vessel, returned to the scene at 7:50 a.m. Friday to conduct an assessment and began dive operations. The divers had to stop diving mid-morning due to dangerous weather conditions, but resumed diving operations again at approximately 1:30 p.m. Friday.

In an earlier update on its ongoing response to the capsized lift boat SEACOR Power, the Coast Guard reported it had recovered one unresponsive person in the water Thursday near the capsized lift boat after a Coast Guard Aviation Training Center Mobile MH-60 Jayhawk helicopter crew spotted one person in the water at 7:10 p.m. while searching the area.

According to local media, the Lafourche Parish Coroner’s Office has identified the crewmember whose body was first recovered from the water as David Ledet, 63, of Thibodaux, La., the vessel’s captain.

Six members of the crew have been rescued and responders continue to search for nine who are still missing, with hopes that some may still be alive within the partially submerged vessel.

Rescue assets involved in the search so far:

  • the pre-commissioned Coast Guard Cutter Glen Harris crew
  • Coast Guard Cutter Amberjack crew
  • Coast Guard Cutter Moray crew
  • Coast Guard Cutter Benjamin Dailey
  • Coast Guard Air Station New Orleans MH-65 Dolphin helicopter crew
  • Coast Guard Station Grand Isle 45-foot RB-M boat crews
  • Coast Guard Air Station Corpus ChristiHC-144 Ocean Sentry airplane crews
  • Two Coast Guard Aviation Training Center MobileHC-144 Ocean Sentry airplanes crews
  • Two Coast Guard Air Station Clearwater HC-130 Hercules airplane crews
  • Two Coast Guard Aviation Training Center Mobile MH-60 Jayhawk helicopters
  • Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries crews
  • Port Fourchon Harbor Patrol
  • Port Fourchon Sheriff’s Department
  • Lafourche Parish Sheriff’s Office
  • One commercial air medical service crew

OWNER MAY SEEK TO LIMIT LIABILITY

Thus far, there appears to have been no public statement on the incident from the lift boat’s owner, SEACOR Marine Holdings Inc. (NYSE:SMHI).

Law firms believe it likely the owner will file a Limitation of Liability complaint to limit its damages in connection with the capsized vessel.

The Limitation of Shipowners’ Liability Act allows a vessel owner to limit its liability for damages to the value of the vessel involved in the occurrence.

Paul T. Hofmann, a partner in law firm Hofmann & Schweitzer, points out that the act limits the shipowner’s liability to the value of the vessel after the event. In this case, the value of the lift boat will be zero.

According to VesselsValue, prior to the capsize, the SEACOR Power had a value of $1.82 million.

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