Salvage Crews Preparing to Refloat Seacor Power

salvage preparing to refloat Seacor Power
A second Seacor liftboat is alongside providing a working platform for the salvage operation (U.S. Coast Guard photo)

Published May 19, 2021 5:51 PM by The Maritime Executive

Salvage crews working at the site of the capsized liftboat Seacor Power are continuing to make progress with their operations. The U.S. Coast Guard reports that the crews completed the first steps in the process and are now moving into the salvage phase. The goal is to refloat the vessel and bring it to port so that the investigations can continue into the loss of the vessel on April 13 off the coast of Louisiana.

During the first phase of the operation, which began two weeks ago, the focus was on the removal of diesel fuel from Seacor Power’s fuel tanks. Crews removed approximately 20,363 gallons of diesel fuel from the Seacor Power using the hot tapping method, which involves drilling into the fuel tanks, making a hose connection, and transferring the fuel to portable tanks.

The crews completed the removal of the fuel oil, but an additional approximately 4,500 gallons of hydraulic fluid remains on the Seacor Power. According to the Coast Guard, those tanks are currently inaccessible to the salvage crew due to the position of the partially submerged vessel. The tanks with the hydraulic fluid have not been compromised, and the current plan is that the hydraulic fluid will be removed after the vessel is raised.

The Coast Guard continues to monitor for any oil discharges and SEACOR Marine has an Oil Spill Response Organization (OSRO) standing by for any situation in which there is recoverable oil.

The crews will now move to the salvage phase, focusing on removing debris and refloating the vessel. The Coast Guard currently expects that the raising of the Seacor Power will not occur before June.

The timeline for the raising of the vessel depends on multiple factors, including the safety of salvage crews, the weather, and addressing any new structural changes that may occur. The priority is to salvage the vessel safely and efficiently. 

There is a safety zone covering a one nautical mile radius around the incident site in effect until June 15. The Federal Aviation Administration also has a temporary flight restriction covering a five nautical mile radius and a 2,000-foot minimum altitude around the site in effect until June 15.

Yesterday, the National Transportation Safety Board released its preliminary report detailing the facts that they were able to determine based on interviews and records from before the incident. The NTSB inspectors are waiting for the salvage of the Seacor Power and then will return to conduct additional inspections and fact findings. The U.S. Coast Guard is also conducting a separate investigation into the loss.

The liftboat heeled over and partially sunk in heavy weather off the Louisiana coast on April 13. Six people from the crew and staff onboard were recovered, one with serious injuries, while six bodies were later found in the water and aboard the vessel. Seven individuals remain unaccounted for at this time and maybe trapped in portions of the vessel.