Photos have emerged of some of the 12 missing crew members who could be trapped inside a capsized lift boat off Louisiana, as the Coast Guard prepares to make a last-ditch rescue attempt.
Divers searching for the missing oil industry workers prepared to enter the overturned vessel on Friday, a rescue effort complicated by daunting technical challenges and continued bad weather.
The hope is that the 12 missing men have found air pockets to survive inside the Seacor Power, most of which is submerged in 50-foot seas about eight miles off the Louisiana coast.
'As long as the weather permits, the divers will try to gain to access to the vessel. That is the ultimate goal,' Coast Guard spokesman Carlos Galarza said early Friday.
Divers searching for the missing oil industry workers prepared to enter the overturned oil drilling vessel Seacor Power on Friday, a rescue effort complicated by daunting technical challenges and continued bad weather
Captain David Ledet, 63, (left) was confirmed dead in the Seacor Power boat disaster and Gregory Walcott, 62, (right) remained among the missing on Friday as the Coast Guard prepared a last-ditch rescue attempt
Missing crew member Dylan Daspit is seen with wife Hannah Coleman Daspit. One crew member is confirmed dead and 12 more are missing from the commercial vessel that capsized Tuesday near Port Fourchon with 19 people on board
Missing crew member Jay Guevara is seen left and right with fiancée Krista Vercher. Divers searching for the missing oil industry workers prepared to enter the overturned vessel on Friday
Missing crew member Quinon Pitre, 31. After the ship flipped over in hurricane-force winds on Tuesday, six crew members were rescued, and one was confirmed dead
People talk on a balcony at a fire station where family members of 12 people missing from a capsized oil industry vessel have been gathering on Thursday in Port Fourchon, La. The lift boat capsized in the Gulf of Mexico during a storm on Tuesday
After the ship flipped over in hurricane-force winds on Tuesday, six crew members were rescued, and one was confirmed dead. Twelve others remain missing.
Two of the missing men had been communicating with rescuers by VHF radio after the ungainly platform ship capsized.
They were spotted clinging to the overturned hull, but returned to seek shelter inside after a third man fell into the water and was lost. There have not been any signs of life since then, officials said.
Time is of the essence, because air pockets will eventually become depleted of oxygen, said Mauritius Bell, diving safety officer at the California Academy of Sciences.
Surviving could depend on the size of an air pocket. 'The larger the better, and it's all about time,' Bell said.
'It would be somewhat analogous to breathing in and out of a paper bag,' he added. 'At some point, it's not survivable.'
On Thursday, searchers knocked on the ship's hull without response.
'There is the potential they are still there, but we don't know,' Petty Officer 2nd Class Jonathan Lally said Thursday. 'We're still searching for 12 people because there are 12 still missing.'
Mother of missing crewman Chaz Morales shows a family photo of him with his children Valerie, Jaxon and Chaz Jr
Darra Ann Morales shows a photo of her son Chaz Morales, as his son Chaz Jr., 10, looks on at the family home in Slidell, Louisiana on Wednesday. Chaz Morales is one of the crew members missing from the capsized vessel Seacor Power
Marion Cuyler, fiancée of missing crew member Chaz Morales, talks on her cell phone at a fire station where family members of 12 people missing from a capsized oil industry vessel have been gathering in Port Fourchon
Marion Cuyler (left), fiancée of missing crew member Chaz Morales (right) is among the family members waiting desperately for news of their loved ones from the capsized Seacor Power
Relatives of the missing gathered at a fire station at Port Fourchon, a sprawling base for much of the offshore oil and gas industry in the Gulf of Mexico.
The port, busy with cranes, cargo and heavy equipment, is where workers from across Louisiana and beyond load up on a fleet of helicopters and ships that take them to the rigs for long stretches of work.
Marion Cuyler, who is engaged to crane operator Chaz Morales, wavered between optimism and fear after the relatives got closed-door briefings from Seacor executives and the Coast Guard. She said she believes all 12 are inside the vessel.
'Hopefully, they are all in one room, and they can just rescue them all in one day,' she said.
The families expressed frustration during the briefing, and want answers to their questions about why the boat ventured out to sea despite warnings of an approaching storm, she said.
'I asked, `Who gave the orders´ and of course - silence,' she said. Cuyler said she'd told her husband-to-be that he shouldn't be going out in such weather. 'And he knew they shouldn´t have been going out.'
Bell said it's fortunate that rescuers know the design of the vessel.
'It's not like they're diving an old wreck that's dilapidated and falling apart, ' he said. 'One of the things that you do have going for them, that is in their favor is that it was a working boat, so you would know the layout of the vessel.'
Missing crew member Dylan Daspit with wife Hannah Coleman Daspit. One crew member is confirmed dead and 12 more are missing from the commercial vessel that capsized Tuesday near Port Fourchon with 19 people on board. Six were rescued
Missing crew member Dylan Daspit with wife Hannah Coleman Daspit (left) and the couple's children (right)
Scott Daspit, father of missing crew member Dylan Daspit, walks into a fire station where family members have been gathering, after a lift boat capsized in the Gulf of Mexico during a storm on Tuesday
A total of six people were rescued shortly after the vessel capsized on Tuesday. The first Coast Guard ship arrived at the scene at 5.10pm, about 40 minutes after the initial distress signal, and spotted five men clinging to the hull, said Petty Officer 3rd Class Carlos Galarza.
A helicopter crew from Bristow, a marine company, lowered life vests and VHF radios to them, he said. Two of the men dropped into the water and were picked up by the Coast Guard.
About the same time, Good Samaritan vessels rescued four other people, he said. The Coast Guard was also able to talk to the three people still on the ship's hull using the radios that had been dropped.
Later Tuesday night the Coast Guard was notified that one person had fallen in the water and wasn't seen again.
Shortly before 10pm, the two remaining people clinging to the hull told the Coast Guard they were going back inside, and that was the last time the Coast Guard spoke with them, Galarza said.
Crew members of the Coast Guard Cutter Glenn Harris search for survivors Tuesday after a 175-foot commercial lift boat capsized. Six men were pulled alive from the water but up to a dozen remain missing
Coast Guardsmen throw a hammer against the hull of the capsized Seacor Power on Thursday as they search for life
The ongoing search has been hampered by foul weather in the Gulf. Above USCG Heartland crew members search for survivors, throwing a hammer against the hull of the Seacor Power and listening for a response
On Thursday, Coast Guard members in a boat made their way to within a few yards of the capsized vessel and tried throwing a hammer at the hull in an attempt to make contact with potential survivors, the agency said.
One person's body was recovered from the water Wednesday as searchers scanned an area roughly the size of Hawaii, the Coast Guard said.
The Coast Guard said it had been classified as a 'major marine casualty' with the National Transportation Safety Board joining the investigation.
The Lafourche Parish Coroner's Office identified the dead man as David Ledet, 63, of Thibodaux - a town in southeastern Louisiana where many people work in the oil industry.
'Capt. Dave was awesome,' Joshua Segura, a mate and crane operator, said on Facebook. He said he had worked with Ledet before moving to another offshore company, describing him as one of the nicest and most humble people he´s met.
'Captain David has been on that boat over 15 years and is one of the most experienced captains I´ve ever worked with,' he wrote.
'Capt. Dave was awesome,' Joshua Segura, a mate and crane operator, said of deceased captain David Ledet (above)
The Secor Power (left) is a mobile platform that can work in up to 195 feet of water
Part of the overturned ship's hull and one of its legs were still visible, leaving most of the bulky vessel underwater, in an area 50 to 55 feet deep, according to the Coast Guard. The ship has three long legs designed to reach the sea floor and lift the boat out of water as an offshore platform.
The vulnerabilities of lift boats in storms have been known for years, and federal authorities have investigated multiple deaths on them.
Four people on board the Trinity II died in September 2011 in the Gulf of Mexico when large waves struck its hull.
Then in July 1989 a lift boat sank off the coast of Louisiana in storms associated with Hurricane Chantal. Ten of the 14 people on board died.
Coast Guard Capt. Will Watson said winds were 80 to 90 mph and waves rose 7 to 9 feet high when the Seacor Power overturned.