Lift boats are self-propelled, self-elevating deck barges that rise out of the water on massive legs that are lowered down into the ocean floor. These vessels are equipped with at least one crane and a large open deck space, providing a stable workdeck for maintenance and construction projects offshore.
OFFSHORE ACCIDENT INFORMATION
What Are Lift Boats Used For?
These vessels originated in the Louisiana bayous in the early age of offshore drilling. The early designs were small barges that could come alongside the fixed near-shore platforms off the Gulf Coast, put down retractable legs for stabilization, and offload equipment.
Over the years, they have evolved into larger, sturdier vessels that operate in all major offshore work areas in the world up to a sea depth of 400 feet.
These vessels perform services such as:
- Carrying equipment and supplies
- Plug and abandon operations
- Core sampling
Crew members on lift boats face many of the same dangers as other maritime workers, but there are some hazards that are unique to these vessels due to their designs.
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Lift Boats At Risk in Bad Weather
Bad weather can be a major contributing factor for serious accidents in all offshore operations, including for lift boats and the workers employed on them. When hurricanes or other serious storms arise in the Gulf of Mexico, lift boats should stop operations and move out of the path of the storm. These vessels are built to be offshore workhorses, but they are not designed to withstand the strong winds and steep waves that can accompany severe thunderstorms, tropical storms and hurricanes.
Inadequate Preload Procedure
In order to help provide a stable workdeck, lift boats deploy legs down to the sea floor. That seafloor itself is unstable and muddy, so a safety measure known as preloading is crucial. This involves jacking the lift boat to a minimum clearance height, then filling its hold with water for added weight, and letting the boat legs settle into the mud of the seafloor for several hours. Once preloading is complete, the lift boat will dump the water and elevate to its working height.
Preload procedures must take into account factors such as the planned load weights to be lifted and the movements of the crane and other equipment on deck. Inadequate preload procedures can quickly lead to the lift boat capsizing.
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Protect Your Legal Rights After Lift Boat Accidents
The Louisiana offshore injury attorneys at The Lambert Firm have been protecting the rights of maritime workers for more than 40 years. If you were injured or a loved one was killed while working on a lift boat, contact us today to schedule a free consultation.