US Coast Guard Still Investigating Research Vessel Sinking in Gulf of Mexico

A public affairs office for the US Coast Guard’s Aviation Training Center Mobile told Professional Mariner that the January 17 sinking case involving the 170-foot SEAPROBE about 141 miles south of Pensacola, Florida, remains under investigation. “The cause … may never be fully known,” Daniel Knauss told Professional Mariner. “It sank in four to five thousand feet of water.”

Three of the dozen people from the research vessel had to be hospitalized in Mobile, Alabama, for their injuries. US Coast Guard helicopter crews rescued 12 people from lifeboats after the US-flagged SEAPROBE capsized and later sank in the Gulf of Mexico during rough weather. According to Professional Mariner, weather conditions deteriorated the night of the sinking, as sustained wind speeds were as strong as 40 mph and wave heights rose to 10 to 14 feet. Knauss estimated that it took about an hour to rescue all 12 individuals from the life rafts.

“They were covered in diesel fuel and extremely cold, but every one of them was wearing a life jacket,” Petty Officer 2nd Class Robert McDonald told Professional Mariner.

Professional Mariner reported that SEAPROBE is owned by Houston-based Fugro-McClelland Marine Geosciences, and the company conducts offshore engineering and research services for governments and the mining and oil industries. The company declined to answer any questions from Professional Mariner about the SEAPROBE incident, but the Houston Chronicle reported in 2006 that Fugro-McClelland had a contract with THE OCEAN LEADER, another ship that sank in the Gulf of Mexico. The vessel’s 30 crewmembers were rescued before it went down after the US ship was battered by storm conditions about eight miles off the coast.

If you sustained injuries or your loved one was killed while performing dangerous work or unsafe methods, those circumstances may qualify as negligent conditions under the Jones Act or unseaworthy conditions under general maritime law that entitle you to compensation. For more than 50 years, Latti & Anderson LLP has been helping people injured in all types of maritime accidents, and you can fill out the form on this page to have our Jones Act lawyers review your case or you can contact our firm today at (800) 392-6072 to arrange a free consultation.

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