The U.S. Coast Guard and a commercial rescue helicopter transported 13 people from a rig after a nearby oil platform caught fire, Thursday, approximately 90 miles south of Vermillion Bay at 9:19 a.m., according to a U.S. Coast Guard press release.
Watchstanders at the Eighth Coast Guard District command center received a call from a pilot aboard a Bristow helicopter, stating that 13 people were in the water wearing immersion suits.
The crew of the Crystal Clear, an offshore supply vessel, safely pulled 13 people from the water near the platform and transferred them to a nearby rig.
Seven Coast Guard MH-65C rescue helicopters and crews from Coast Guard Air Stations New Orleans and Houston arrived on scene at approximately 11:30 a.m., and a commercial rescue helicopter, the Cougar, arrived on scene as well. Three of the Coast Guard helicopters and the Cougar transported all 13 people ashore to the Terrebonne General Medical Center in Houma, La., where none were reported to have sustained serious injury.
Mariner Energy, the owner of the platform, deployed three firefighting vessels to the scene and extinguished the fire. Coast Guard vessels and aircraft on scene saw no evidence of sheen or leaks, and Mariner Energy reported that the platform had been shut in.
Responders remain vigilant for any evidence of oil on the water, and Coast Guard vessels and aircraft will continue surveillance of the area. The Coast Guard is scheduled to conduct additional searches of the area at first light, Friday, to search for any evidence of sheen.
The cause of the incident is under investigation, according to the Coast Guard.
In a White House press briefing yesterday, spokesman Robert Gibbs told reporters:
“This is a -- I’m told this is a production platform about 100 miles off the coast. I am told the depth of water is about 340 feet. So this is not a -- this is not a deepwater facility.
“As I understand it, the well was not in active production. I will in some ways reiterate what I think the Coast Guard has said in a statement that they’ve released, and that is that they responded to the preliminary reports of a fire onboard an oil platform in the Gulf. The initial report that we got were that 13 persons -- 13 people were on the platform. They are accounted for; one is injured and is on his way out of that area.
“Two Coast Guard cutters, multiple Coast Guard aircraft were en route. One Coast Guard helicopter was on the scene. We will continue to gather information as we respond. We obviously have response assets ready for deployment should we receive reports of pollution in the water.”
Question from reporter: “Is the President convinced that the inspection of rigs in the Gulf of Mexico is moving fast enough?”
MR. GIBBS: I have not gotten a recent update on that. I will try to get one. Obviously we have taken some -- we took a series of steps after the BP incident, primarily around deepwater drilling. Let me not go too much further than what I have. And if the situation warrants, we’ll certainly update that.”