Search for 9 missing from capsized boat in Gulf on 6th day

For a sixth day, rescue crews returned Sunday to a capsized lift boat in the Gulf of Mexico off Louisiana, looking for nine crew members who have not been found, the Coast Guard said.

Officials have released little information about their continuous search in the murky seas surrounding the capsized Seacor Power lift boat some 8 miles (13 kilometers) off the coast since announcing divers found two bodies inside the ship Friday night.

Six people were rescued alive after the boat capsized Tuesday in a storm. Four bodies have been found — one Wednesday, one Thursday and two on Friday.

Marion Cuyler, fiancée of missing crew member Chaz Morales, talks to reporters at a fire station where family members of 12 people missing from a capsized oil industry vessel have been gathering, Thursday, April 15, 2021, in Port Fourchon, La. The lift boat capsized in the Gulf of Mexico during a storm on Tuesday, killing one with 12 others still missing. (AP PhotoGerald Herbert)

Families of the missing crew members haven't given up that maybe they found an air pocket or are still alive.

“We have hope,” Marion Cuyler wrote in a text to a reporter.

Cuyler texted her fiancée, crane operator Chaz Morales, that the weather appeared too bad to head out Tuesday. She said Morales texted her back that he wished he could stay ashore.

Janet Hartford, center, the wife of Anthony Hartford, 53, whose body was found among the dead on the Seacor Power, holds a photo of her husband while standing with her daughter, Antranae, 24, right, son, Thelonious Dukes, 38, far left, and daughter-in-law, Chantrice, at their home in New Orleans on Saturday, April 17, 2021. Divers returned Saturday to the murky, roiling waters of the Gulf of Mexico in search of lost crew members aboard a capsized lift boat off Louisiana, the Coast Guard said. (Chris GrangerThe Times-PicayuneThe New Orleans Advocate via AP)

“We aren’t defeated. We will keep fighting," Cuyler texted a reporter late Saturday.

The bulky vessel flipped over Tuesday afternoon south of Port Fourchon, a major base for the U.S. oil and gas industry. It has three legs it can lower to the sea floor to lift it out of the water as a temporary platform.

Divers are trying to get inside the capsized boat, which has part of its overturned hull and one of its legs above the water when the sea is 50 to 55 feet (15 to 17 meters) deer. Rescuers in the air and the water have been searching an area the size of Rhode Island for the remaining nine missing crew members.

In this photo provided by the U.S. Coast Guard, A Coast Guard Station Grand Isle 45-foot Response Boat-medium boat crew member searches for survivors near the capsized SeaCor Power. The Seacor Power, an oil industry vessel, flipped over Tuesday, April 13, 2021 in a microburst of dangerous wind and high seas. (U.S. Coast Guard via AP)

"We are continuing to search," Coast Guard Petty Officer John Michelli said Sunday morning. “We've basically been 24-7 since the beginning.”

Michelli referred questions about the diving operation to New Jersey-based Donjon Marine Co., which was contracted by boat-owner Seacor Power to lead the underwater search. A spokesman for the company referred questions back to Houston-based Seacor on Sunday morning, and the company didn't respond to a phone message or email.

The boat was on its way to a Talos Energy Inc. oil platform at the mouth of the Mississippi River when its was overtaken by a storm with winds 80 to 90 mph (130 to 145 kph) and waves 7 to 9 feet high (2.1 to 2.7 meters), the Coast Guard has said.

A man who did not want to be identified surveys his company's barge that ran aground during a storm on Tuesday, that also capsized a lift boat, killing one with 12 others still missing in the Gulf of Mexico, in Grand Isle, La., Thursday, April 15, 2021. (AP PhotoGerald Herbert)

Talos Energy said in a statement it was Seacor Marine's decision to send the boat out Tuesday.

“The Seacor Power was in port for service and inspections for several days prior to its departure, The vessel was not at a Talos facility and was fully under the command of its captain and Seacor Marine, including when to depart the port," Talos Energy said in a statement Saturday given to the The Times-Picayune/The New Orleans Advocate.

Talos Energy said company officials were heartbroken and praying for everyone affected by the tragedy.

Seacor didn't respond to the Talos Energy statement.

One of the bodies recovered Friday was Anthony Hartford, a 53-year-old ship cook. His wife said she got a 3 a.m. knock on the door telling her he was dead, The Times-Picayune/The New Orleans Advocate reported.

“It’s no feeling right now," Janet Hartford said.

In the kitchen, six wilted red roses sat in a vase. She said her husband brought the flowers and cake to her work place for her birthday on March 30. It was the last time she saw her husband of 24 years and the father of their four children.