United Cajun Navy ends role in search for lift boat workers

NEW ORLEANS (AP) — A nonprofit volunteer group announced Sunday it is suspending its organization of search efforts for seven men missing since an offshore oil industry vessel capsized off Louisiana’s coast on April 13.

The United Cajun Navy made the announcement on its Facebook page. “Others may continue in the search efforts and we wish them luck,” the statement said. “Others have formed ways to collect donations to fund their own search efforts and we wish everyone safety and guidance in continued search efforts.”

The post said some all-terrain vehicles connected to the organization would still search Louisiana's Holly Beach and part of the Texas coast. The post said the organization's assistance in the search effort largely involved fundraising for searches, organizing sea planes, coordinating searches, gathering supplies and raising awareness on social media.

The Seacor Power, a lift boat used to service offshore facilities, capsized in hurricane-force winds about eight miles (13 kilometers) off the Louisiana coast. Six men were rescued. Six bodies have been recovered but seven remain missing and are presumed dead.

The Coast Guard suspended search and rescue efforts on April 19. Petty Officer Jonathan Lally said when the Guard suspended the search, it was already 48 hours longer than survivability models indicated. The Coast Guard search covered more than 9,200 square miles (23,000 square kilometers), using planes, helicopters and cutters.

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Multiple lawsuits over the accident have been filed against the lift boat owner and operator, Seacor Marine, and Talos Energy, the company that had hired the boat.

Sunday's posting by the United Cajun Navy addressed apparent tensions that have arisen during the search, saying the effort has “turned into a whirlwind of accusations, untruths and finger pointing,” and the post specifically mentioned “rumors of sea planes and fuel invoices not being paid” and said they are “completely false.”

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