The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) has determined that the probable cause of the 2011 accident in the southern Gulf of Mexico that claimed four lives was the failure of Trinity Liftboats (the vessel owner/operator) and Geokinetics (the chartering organization) to adequately plan and prepare for a rapidly and locally developing hurricane. Contributing to the fatalities and injuries was the failure of the Trinity II crewmembers to make effective use of the vessel’s lifesaving equipment, resulting in their prolonged exposure to the elements while awaiting rescue.
On September 8, 2011, the 78.5-foot-long liftboat Trinity II, while elevated about 15 miles offshore in the Bay of Campeche, sustained damage to its stern jacking leg from severe weather associated with Hurricane Nate. When the stern jacking leg failed, causing the vessel to list, the four crewmembers and six contractors on board abandoned ship. All 10 persons, wearing lifejackets, entered the water where they clung to one of the vessel’s 12-person lifefloats. Three days passed until search and rescuers located nine of the personnel. Two of them were dead and a third would die later at the hospital. Four days after finding the nine personnel, responders recovered the body of the 10th person. The six survivors sustained serious injuries from days in open sea without out-of-water protection or supplies.