The U.S Coast Guard in Louisiana said Thursday divers intend to search a capsized commercial vessel for survivors after the ship turned over Tuesday in stormy seas in the Gulf of Mexico with 19 people on board.
In an interview with The Weather Channel, New Orleans Sector Coast Guard Commander Will Watson said salvage divers working with the owner of the ship, the Secor Marine transportation company, were waiting for a break in the weather to send divers to search the partially submerged vessel on the chance survivors were in an air pocket.
The Coast Guard says it responded to an emergency beacon Tuesday afternoon from the 39-meter vessel, which was 13 kilometers south of Port Fourchon, on the southern tip of Louisiana. It issued an urgent marine information broadcast to which multiple “good Samaritan” ships in the area responded.
They say six people were rescued Tuesday and since then, one body has been recovered and 12 people are still missing. Watson said aircraft and boats have covered more than 7,700-square kilometers in the past 70 hours searching for survivors.
The ship capsized in seas driven by hurricane force winds as what the National Weather Service has described as a rare low-pressure system formed off the Louisiana coast. The rough seas have persisted since Tuesday, making search and rescue efforts difficult.
The ship, named the SECOR Power is what is known as a lift ship, a self-propelled commercial vessel with an open deck that is deployed to carry heavy equipment, often to support drilling or exploration. It can float freely or deploy “legs” to secure itself to the bottom of the ocean.