WASHINGTON, D.C. – Congressman Clay Higgins (R-LA) questioned U.S. Coast Guard (USCG) Admiral Karl Schultz today during a House Homeland Security Committee hearing and requested further investigatory actions concerning the SEACOR Power tragedy.
Congressman Higgins has received many in-depth briefings beginning from the first hours of the SEACOR tragedy and has personally scouted the incident site by water and air. His official case file regarding the SEACOR incident has grown very thick. Today, although the Democrat majority intended the hearing to focus on diversity and gender identity within the Coast Guard, Congressman Higgins used the opportunity to interview USCG Admiral Schultz about the SEACOR incident.
Key exchanges include:
Congressman Higgins: “One concern of many of my constituents in the State of Louisiana that has not been addressed by this committee or any other committee in the House of Representatives is the SEACOR incident that occurred on April 13th of this year. During this event, the Coast Guard carried out search and rescue operations after a severe weather event caused a 129-foot commercial lift boat owned by SEACOR Marine to capsize 8 miles off the coast of Louisiana. This incident resulted in 6 confirmed deaths with 7 crew members still unaccounted for, lost at sea.”
Congressman Higgins: “We must address legitimate questions regarding the Coast Guard’s vessel response plans and concerns of recovery capabilities as well as the frequency and timeliness of updates for the crew members’ families in the event of an incident. I’m not interested in blame. I’m interested in what we can do as a nation to promote marine safety and emergency response by federal assets like the Coast Guard.“
Congressman Higgins: “Admiral Schultz, God bless you, sir. I know you are here today to discuss a specific topic so I will not put you on the spot regarding SEACOR, and I’ll only leave you with one request. Can you commit today to lead a briefing for me, for interested members of this committee, and the Louisiana delegation regarding lessons learned from the SEACOR Power tragedy and how the Coast Guard and Congress could work together to ensure the likelihood of such tragedy is reduced in the future? Can you make that commitment to me today, good sir?”
Admiral Schultz: “Congressman Higgins, good morning sir. I echo your sentiments about the tragic confirmed loss of 6 and still 7 missing. SEACOR Power was a very difficult, complex case. You have my commitment, sir, for a briefing. Absolutely. We are working with the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) regarding investigatory occurrences for that situation. We need to understand what transpired. We are working in a unified command environment right now as they try to recover and right that vessel. That will factor into our understanding of exactly what transpired and how we learn from that. First and foremost, as the nation’s lead federal agency for maritime safety, security, and environmental stewardship, we absolutely have to understand that, and we have to preclude that from happening again. Sir, with respect to the families, we worked very close with NTSB in terms of, you know, kind of timing of their arrival and for not losing sight of the fact that there were families involved with missing loved ones, and they still have unaccounted for missing loved ones.
Admiral Schultz: “Sir, I appreciate the emotion involved in this. You have my commitment to learn from this through the investigatory process. We would be absolutely committed to coming and briefing your staff or if that’s in a hearing whatever route that’s deemed appropriate by the committee, sir. We want to inform into that and try to preclude such tragic occurrences from the future.”