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Coast Guard captain pushes for change in testimony; recalls rescuing Seacor Power crewmembers

Published: Aug. 6, 2021 at 5:02 PM CDT
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NEW ORLEANS, La.(WVUE) - The captain of a Coast Guard Cutter testified about 80 mph winds that kicked up in two minutes near the site of the Seacor Power lift boat disaster.

Leonard Guidry said when he heard that a lift boat flipped, he knew it was the Seacor Power.

Guidry is a veteran captain who was shaking down the non-commissioned Coast Guard Cutter Glenn Harris off Port Fourchon on April 13 and he saw the 175-foot lift boat Seacor Power headed out into the Gulf that afternoon.

“We knew that weather was coming and we discussed how these boats are dangerous in heavy weather conditions,” he said.

He told a panel of investigators that as he ran the Glenn Harris through sea trials off Elmers Island, a major storm blew in in less than two minutes.

“What I saw... was our wind gauge was 80 right away and we had washout rain conditions,” testified Guidry.

CONTINUING COVERAGE

Harris says his marine band radio began crackling with reports of an overturned lift boat.

“I kind of immediately knew it was them because I had followed them out,” said Guidry.

With a Coast Guard crew on board, Guidry brought the Glenn Harris to the scene where the Seacor Power had flipped over with 19 men on board and used an infrared camera in the darkness to spot survivors.

“There were five persons holding onto a piece of cabin sticking up out of the water,” said Guidry.

As a Bristow helicopter maneuvered above, Guidry launched a small boat to try and get closer, but he says there was little they could do because of the position of the vessel and the equipment around it. Then, a survivor jumped into the raging sea, as Captain Guidry positioned the Glenn Harris for rescue.

“The crew threw a life ring into the water and he was able to swim to it,” said Guidry.

At that point, other smaller boats were on scene and the Glenn Harris returned to Port. The captain now hopes for changes that could better alert mariners to bad weather.

“It seems to me that mariners are relying on channel 16 versus some of these other pieces of equipment. That would make it more of a regular thing to put weather advisories out for channel 16,” said Guidry.

Six were rescued and 13 others died when the Seacor Power flipped that day.

The Coast Guard-NTSB parallel hearing continues next week.

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