Honorable Deborah Hersman, NTSB Board Member

Chairman Deborah A.P. Hersman
National Transportation Safety Board
Opening Remarks
Washington, DC - April 9, 2013
Marine Accident Report - Personnel Abandonment
of Weather-Damaged US Liftboat Trinity II
Bay of Campeche, Gulf of Mexico - September 8, 2011
(As Prepared for Delivery)


Welcome back. We now proceed to the second item on our agenda: the September 8, 2011, marine accident that involved personnel abandoning the US Liftboat Trinity II during severe weather associated with Hurricane Nate in the southern Gulf of Mexico.

Ten people were onboard the liftboat - four U.S. crewmembers from Louisiana-based Trinity Liftboats and six non-U.S. contractors from Geokinetics, the firm that had chartered the liftboat.

After abandoning the liftboat, two crewmembers and one contractor perished. One contractor was recovered alive but later died. The remaining two crewmembers and four contractors all suffered serious injuries from days in open sea without out-of-water flotation protection or supplies.

On behalf of my fellow Board members and the entire NTSB staff, I offer our deep sympathies to the families and friends of the four men who died in this tragic accident and our wishes for a full recovery for the men who were injured.

As every mariner knows, and it's has been said many times, the sea is powerful and unforgiving. This loss of life and the brutal experience for everyone involved underscores the importance of this investigation and the urgency of learning from this event. It's essential to take the lessons learned and apply them to prevent future tragedies.

In marine transportation, there are risks, just as there are in every mode of transportation. And, as in every mode of transportation, prevention is paramount, especially when you are subject to the elements.

Addressing and mitigating risks in transportation is why there are certification standards for equipment, training and licensing requirements for personnel, and it's why the government performs oversight through inspections and enforcement actions.

These safeguards are crucial for prevention. But emergency preparedness and planning are just as essential for when safeguards fail or for when nature intervenes like it did so dramatically in the Gulf for the Trinity II.

This accident - with its unfortunate sequences of events and decisions - sounds the alarm for weather preparedness and proper emergency response, which encompasses planning, policy, procedures and practice.

In the military, the philosophy has long been "train like you fight, fight like you train." That's because training is what a soldier or sailor relies on in the heat of the moment, in the intense real-time of battle.

It's the same in transportation in the midst of intense weather, in a crisis situation when you rely on preparedness training and response plans. We'll hear more about this during this afternoon's presentations.

Dr. Mayer, will you please introduce the staff.