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Marine Casualty Report. OCEAN EXPRESS (Drilling Unit); Capsizing and Sinking in the Gulf of Mexico on 15 April 1976 with Loss of Life.

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On 15 April 1976, the self-elevating drilling unit OCEAN EXPRESS, capsized and sank while it was being towed by three tugs from one drilling site to another in the Gulf of Mexico. The crew, except for the barge mover, abandoned the rig in two survival capsules. The barge mover was evacuated by a Coast Guard helicopter just seconds before the OCEAN EXPRESS capsized. All of the crew members in one of the capsules safely transferred to an attending vessel. The other capsule capsized in the vicinity of one of the tugs due to wave action and shifting weight. Seven men escaped from the overturned capsule and safely boarded the tugs, however, thirteen other persons were trapped inside and drowned. This report contains the U.S. Coast Guard Marine Board of Investigation report and the Action taken by the Commandant to determine the probable cause of the casualty and the recommendations to prevent recurrence. The Commandant concurs with the Board that the primary cause of the capsizing of the OCEAN EXPRESS was the loss of directional control resulting from the loss of the GULF KNIGHTs engine and the breaking of the GULF VIKINGs towline at a time when the weather conditions were worsening. This allowed the OCEAN EXPRESS to drift broadside to the boarding seas. Author



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