In May, the United States National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) made public an introductory report after investigating the events that led to the Seacor accident that took the lives of at least 6 crew members. In said report, the NTSB explains how 3 hours after departing from Port Fourchon in Louisiana, a Seacor lift boat was caught in rough seas and hazardous weather conditions that ultimately caused it to capsize.
The report explains how the crew attempted to lower the boat's "legs" as the conditions worsened. Tragically, as the legs were being lowered and the boat was turned into the wind, it capsized before it could be stabilized. Some of the crew were thrown into the water while others sought refuge onto the exposed part of the ship. Yet, high winds and 12-foot waves prevented rescue efforts from reaching all the crew members.
Over the coming days, the bodies of 5 of the crew members were recovered by search and rescue units, though the search was eventually called off one week after the accident.
On the day of the accident, a Coast Guard cutter was able to rescue 6 men, including one who was seriously injured. Other crew members were left behind as the injured man required urgent medical attention. Some supplies were left with the remaining men, though communication with them was ultimately lost. It is not clear if those individuals left behind were also the ones whose bodies were recovered afterward.
This initial report by the NTSB contained only concrete facts regarding the maritime accident. Many questions remain including the exact cause of the accident and if poor decision-making on behalf of any party may have led to the loss of life. Some surviving family members of the victims have already filed suit against Seacor Marine, Seacor Liftboats, and Talos Energy over the incident.
Several entities, including the owner and two alleged operators of the capsized Seacor lifeboat, have recently filed suit in the Eastern District of Louisiana as an attempt to limit their liability in claims for damages related to the deadly April accident. Citing the Limitation of Liability Act, the plaintiffs believe the damages should not exceed $5.6 million, an amount that represents "the total value of the vessel plus freight and supplemental personal injury."
In the official filing, the plaintiffs also argue that the accident and subsequent injuries and death did not occur as a result of neglect. More specifically, the Captain of the vessel is described as being experienced and trained, and the sea conditions on the date are cited as being within the vessel's operating limits.
Lastly, the complaint also argued that the sudden change in weather, largely believed to have been a significant factor in the accident, was "unforeseeable."