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One Dead, 12 Still Missing After Boat Capsizes In The Gulf

A Coast Guard Station Grand Isle 45-foot Respone Boat-Medium boatcrew heads toward a capsized 175-foot commerical lift boat April 13, 2021 searching for people in the water 8 miles south of Grand Isle, Louisiana. The Coast Guard and multiple good Samaritan vessels responded to the capsized vessel and searched for multiple missing people in the water.
U.S. Coast Guard
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U.S. Coast Guard photo courtesy of Coast Guard Cutter Glenn Harris
A Coast Guard response boat heads toward a capsized 175-foot commercial lift boat on April 13, 2021 searching for people in the water south of Port Fourchon, Louisiana.

One person is dead and 12 people are still missing after a vessel operated by Seacor Marine capsized Tuesday afternoon south of Port Fourchon, the U.S. Coast Guard said Wednesday morning.

At the time the vessel capsized, offshore winds were gusting 80 to 90 miles per hour, with 7 to 9-foot seas, Coast Guard Sector Caption Will Watson said at a press conference Wednesday.

What caused the 175-foot vessel, named Seacor Power, to capsize and the extent to which bad weather was responsible remains under investigation.

“That’s challenging under any circumstances,” Watson said. “So we don't know the degree to which that contributed to what happened, but we do know those are challenging conditions to be out in a marine environment.”

Watson said there were reports of challenging weather Tuesday, but “this level of weather was not necessarily anticipated.”

For now the Coast Guard, along with volunteer “good Samaritans,” are primarily focused on efforts to find and rescue the 12 missing people.

When asked whether it was a possibility that all or some of the 12 people might still be alive, trapped in an air pocket inside the vessel, Coast Guard Public Information Officer Shelley Turner said it was a “possibility.”

“We don't know for certain right now but that is something we’re looking into as the investigation unfolds. We’re trying to figure that information out,” she said.

In a statement, Houston-based Seacor Marine said it was “deeply saddened by the news of the vessel capsizing and are working closely with the U.S. Coast Guard and local authorities to support all efforts to locate our valued team members and partners.”

The surf remains choppy as the rescue mission proceeds today. Thunderstorms are still rolling through the area, with 20 to 30 mph winds and 8-foot seas. Capt. Watson said that makes search and rescue more challenging but not impossible.

“My heart and the collective heart of our team goes out to the families and to Seacor,” Watson said. “But we’re giving it all we have.”

Support for the Coastal Desk comes from the Greater New Orleans Foundation, the Walton Family Foundation, and local listeners.

As Coastal Reporter, Travis Lux covers flood protection, coastal restoration, infrastructure, the energy and seafood industries, and the environment. In this role he's reported on everything from pipeline protests in the Atchafalaya swamp, to how shrimpers cope with low prices. He had a big hand in producing the series, New Orleans: Ready Or Not?, which examined how prepared New Orleans is for a future with more extreme weather. In 2017, Travis co-produced two episodes of TriPod: New Orleans at 300 examining New Orleans' historic efforts at flood protection. One episode, NOLA vs Nature: The Other Biggest Flood in New Orleans History, was recognized with awards from the Public Radio News Directors and the New Orleans Press Club. His stories often find a wider audience on national programs, too, like NPR's Morning Edition, WBUR's Here and Now, and WHYY's The Pulse.

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