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Friday, June 14, 2024 | Back issues
Courthouse News Service Courthouse News Service

Shipwreck Victims Say Standby Vessel Fled

HOUSTON (CN) - A standby vessel operator "cut and ran for base and shelter" during a tropical storm, abandoning a liftboat crew to float for three days in the Gulf of Mexico, two crewmembers and the father of a worker who died during the ordeal claim in Harris County Court.

Surviving crew members Ted Derise and Jeremy Parfait, and Steven Myers, for himself and for the estate of his son Craig Myers, sued Geokinetics Inc., its subsidiaries Advanced Seismic Technology and Geokinetics de Mexico, and its president Richard Miles.

Tropical Storm Nate raged through the Bay of Campeche in the southern Gulf of Mexico and caused the Trinity II liftboat to collapse on Sept. 8, 2011, according to the complaint.

A liftboat is a self-propelled vessel that can lift itself clear of the water, to provide a platform for maintenance and construction offshore.

The crew of the Trinity II evacuated to an inflatable raft. The plaintiffs say that Advanced Seismic Technology had chartered a vessel, the Mermaid Vigilance, to stand by and assist the Trinity II.

"The name 'Mermaid Vigilance' was a contradiction to the actions of the vessel, captain and her crew, and to the actions of AST, Geokinetics and ultimately Miles, which controlled the entities directing, or failing to direct, the activities of the Mermaid Vigilance," the complaint states. "The Mermaid Vigilance and Geokinetics and its CEO Milles abandoned the crew of the Trinity II to their horrifying fate in the storm ridden seas of the Bay of Campeche, and cut and ran for base and shelter leaving the crew of the Trinity II to their ill gotten fate of injury and death.

"All of these actions took place with the full knowledge of the circumstances of the Trinity II's crew's horrifying position, given the collapse of the Trinity II's leg, and despite her Mayday calls.

"Defendants had no adequate evacuation plan in place for the Trinity II, which in itself constitutes negligence, and failed to ensure the presence of a standby vessel, here the Mermaid Vigilance.

"Although having the contractual, moral, and legal obligation to control the Mermaid Vigilance, AST failed to direct and demand the Mermaid Vigilance to standby the Trinity II, to rescue Derise, Parfait, and Decedent Myers, as it should have done.

"Geokinetics Mexico, as operators of the field, and controlling same, failed to have a reasonable means of evacuation or rescue and failed to evacuate the Trinity II before the storm though it was their obligation to do so.

"Geokinetics, as parent of AST and Geokinetics Mexico, and Miles, as CEO of Geokinetics, failed to control and direct the operations of their companies and contractors, though they had the ability, and legal and moral obligation to do so in a safe manner, and to operate the project in question, for which they were earning tens of millions of dollars, within the reasonable standard of care of similarly situated operators.

"The Mermaid Vigilance, Geokinetics and Miles, were anything but 'vigilant,' but were rather cowardly and their actions were tantamount to murder at sea," according to the complaint.

Craig Myers, 32, died in the Gulf of Mexico with his crewmates on Sept. 11, 2011 - three days after Tropical Storm Nate disabled the Trinity II, Courthouse News reportedthat month.

According to that Courthouse News story, which was based on a previous lawsuit, Myers was part of the Trinity II's 10-member crew, and one of four Americans, all from Louisiana, working on the liftboat.

Nick Reed, who was the son of Trinity president Randy Reed, also drowned, as did an Australian on the crew, Aaron Houweling.

Derise and Parfait were rescued, with a Bangladeshi and four Mexican crew members, on Sept. 11. The Bangladeshi later died in hospital.

Steven Myers previously sued Geokinetics, Trinity Liftboat Services and the Mermaid Vigilance's owners Mermaid Marine Asia and Mermaid Marine Australia in Galveston Federal Court, seeking punitive damages over his son's death.

Trinity Liftboat Services and the Mermaid defendants are not parties to the Harris County case.

Derise and Parfait also sued Geokinetics, Trinity Liftboat Services, Mermaid Marine Asia and Mermaid Marine Australia in Galveston Federal Court on Sept. 19, 2011.

According to court records, their case was terminated on Dec. 1, 2011.

However, Derise, Parfait and Steven Myers filed another claim in Galveston Federal Court on Dec. 16, 2011 against Geokinetics Holdings USA Inc., Geokinetics Singapore PTE. Ltd., Geokinetics (Australia) Pty. Ltd., Mermaid Marine PTE Ltd. and Mermaid Marine Australia Ltd.

The plaintiffs filed an unopposed motion for partial dismissal against the Geokinetics defendants in that case, and they were dismissed from the case Feb. 13, according to court records.

Plaintiffs apparently dismissed the Geokinetics defendants to pursue their claims against them in Harris County.

In their Harris County petition they seek punitive damages for negligence.

Houston attorney Francis Spagnoletti represents the plaintiffs in all their litigation.

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