NTSB: Communications failure a factor in cable car disaster

NEW ORLEANS (AP) – An outage involving the Coast Guard’s maritime warning system and “data gaps” in radar systems were factors in last year’s deadly capsize of an oil tanker during severe storms off the coast of Louisiana, the National Transportation Safety Board said in a report. on Tuesday.

Thirteen of the 19 people on board the Seacor Power died after the offshore vessel capsized in the Gulf after leaving the port of Fourchon. Known as a lift boat, the vessel had three legs that could be lowered to the bottom, turning the vessel into a subsea platform for servicing oil and gas facilities. It was chartered by Talos Energy LLC for work on a Gulf platform when it was hit by high winds in rough seas and capsized on April 13, 2021.

A preliminary NTSB report said the Seacor Power had started to lower its stabilizing legs and was trying to turn into strong winds when it capsized in the Gulf of Mexico. Six people were saved.

The NTSB said in a report Tuesday that the Seacor Power captain made a “reasonable” decision to start on the day of the disaster. But he didn’t have enough weather information from the cable car company.

“Additionally, due to a Coast Guard radio outage, the SEACOR Power crew did not receive a special warning from the National Weather Service notifying mariners of an approaching severe storm,” the report said.

Another problem: a lack of low-altitude radar data that prevented the National Weather Service from identifying and predicting the strong winds that hit the ship. The report suggests that the weather service, the Federal Aviation Administration and the Air Force jointly consider reducing radar angles to improve coverage.

The report included several recommendations for the Coast Guard. He suggested developing a procedure to notify mariners when navigational broadcasts disappear; changing regulations requiring crane boats to be designed for greater stability; and the development of procedures to include the participation of commercial, local government and non-profit air rescue service providers in rescue operations. The Coast Guard should also require all employees on vessels in the “Coast Service, Great Lakes and Oceans” to have personal tracking devices.

If the crew members and offshore workers on board the SEACOR Power had been required to wear such devices, “their chances of being rescued would have been increased,” the report said.

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