PORT FOURCHON, La. (KLFY) — The Seacor Power’s captain and crew did not receive vital information that could have prevented the tragic capsizing of the ship the day of the incident, according to the National Transportation Safety Board’s (NTSB) investigative docket, which was released to the public on Wednesday.
The docket contains data that support the information that will be synthesized in the NTSB’s Factual Reports and Final Report. The Final Report will be published by the NTSB following a Board meeting anticipated for a later date. The docket is intended to supplement or correct information that was released in preliminary reports and findings.
The NTSB’s preliminary report was released on May 18, 2021, a little more than a month after the lift boat capsized.
There are 78 docket items with 8,000 pages of factual information, including meteorology information, survival factors, interviews from multiple sources involved, such as the United States Coast Gaurd Coxwains, captains of nearby boats, spouses of Seacor Power crewmen, employees of Talos, and more, as well as transcriptions of the Coast Guard’s investigative public hearing that was held in August of 2021.
You can read the docket here.
News 10’s Britt Lofaso combed through some of the docket and gathered some shocking information.
According to reports in the docket, crew members on board the Seacor Power did not know the severe weather conditions coming their way when they left the dock around 6 a.m. on April 13, 2021.
The severe thunderstorm that caused 15-feet high waves and 100-mile-an-hour wind wasn’t reported until around 2 p.m. that afternoon, but the crew members on the Seacor Power never got those weather alerts.
They could only gauge how bad this storm would be while looking out into the waters and sky that afternoon.
Reports show that at 2:27 p.m., the National Weather Service (NWS) issued a special marine warning for boaters in Port Fouchon. They warned, “Boats could sustain damage or capsize. Make sure all on board are wearing life jackets. Return to harbor if possible.”
Bryan Mires, the First Mate of the Seacor Power, explained they never received any alerts that afternoon. He says only when they heard thunder did they realize the storm was coming.
“If Captain Dave would have known that that weather was coming, we would have never left that dock,” Mires said in an interview.
Main Craine Operator Charlie Scallan said in an interview, that the weather got bad while they were out on the water. The Seacor Power did not have time to jack up above the water before the waves began.
The NTSB also interviewed the captains of several other lift boats in the area.
The captain of one of the other lift boats, Vanessa, said by 3:30 p.m. the wind was over 100 mph, and there were 12 to 15-foot waves.
Captain Ted Duthu, of the lift boat Rockfish, said, “Never in my wildest dream that I thought that the winds were going to be this strong. I’ve been working on the gulf now for 44 years and never experienced anything like this before.”
“I was never the type of person to get scared, but that night, I prayed and I got scared like I never got scared before,” Captain Duthu added.
He says the wind jumped from 35 to 100 miles an hour within a couple of minutes.
Captain Duthu said he believes his boat would have also capsized if they hadn’t been jacked up above the water. He said, unfortunately, the Seacor Power was still in the water.
The first mate of the Seacor Power told the NTSB when their lift boat started to lean, the wind gage showed 79 mph.
He said he never got a chance to look at the wind gauge when the Seacor Power capsized, as most crewmembers were in a panic.
The Night Captain of the Seacor Power, James Gracien, who also survived, explained what it was like to be there when the lift boat capsized.
“I’m laying there, I go, ‘Wow, man. It feels like the boat’s listing to starboard,’ and very quickly I went, ‘No, no, no, it’s not.’ Then all of a sudden I go, ‘Yeah, it is. We’re listing to starboard, man.’ I got out of bed, and I stood up, and it flipped over,” Gracien explained in an interview.
He then explained he grabbed the bunk bed he was laying down in, as the boat seemed to rip apart. He says he tried to break through a nearby window, though it was like hitting steel.
Gracien and another man crawled through the hallway that was already filling up with water in a panic. They finally broke a window and realized how rough the sea was.
He and the other crewmember put on lifejackets and jumped out of the window. As he floated away, Gracien said the cabin and other areas of the lift boat were almost completely underwater.
He said he floated on a mattress for hours in the cold water and huge waves until he was rescued by crewmembers on a Swiss supply boat.
Other crewmembers who survived say they waded in the water in lifejackets, waiting to be rescued.
The First Mate of the Seacor Power, Bryan Mires, said he’d been in the water for two hours before he was rescued four miles away from the lift boat.
When asked what helped him survive, he said it was luck.
Crew members who were rescued by good Samaritan vessels say they searched for survivors until the next morning.
Seven crewmembers aboard the Seacor Power that day still have not been found.