Entries in Gulf of Mexico (21)


Carnival Cruise Ship Stranded in Gulf of Mexico

File photo. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Dylan McCord/Released)(NEW YORK) -- A Carnival cruise ship carrying more than 4,000 passengers and crew is stranded in the Gulf of Mexico after an engine room fire broke out Sunday morning, representatives for the cruise line said.

The fire was extinguished aboard the Carnival Triumph on Sunday and no injuries were reported.  The ship, however, lost power and is relying on a backup generator as it drifts 477 miles southeast of Galveston, Texas, Carnival said in a statement.

The vessel is currently without propulsion and the ship is operating on emergency generator power, according to a statement from Carnival.  The ship’s technical crew has determined the vessel will need to be towed to port.  A tugboat is en route to the ship’s location and will tow the vessel to Progreso, Mexico, which is the closest port to the ship.

The ship is expected to arrive in Progreso Wednesday afternoon and guests will be flown from there back to the United States, Carnival said.

The Carnival Triumph departed Galveston on Thursday with 3,143 guests and 1,086 crew on board for a Mexican cruise and was due to return to the port on Monday.

The passengers have been asked to remain in the ship’s public areas and open decks for their comfort, and they are being provided with food and refreshments, Carnival said.

“All the passengers are staying in the public areas of the vessel and the open decks, cause there’s no air conditioning,” Coast Guard Lt. Julio Gonzalez said.  “The air conditioning is not working right now.”

But he said it appears there is enough food and water for the passengers and crew on board.

“As of right now, it hasn’t been a concern for the cruise line, for the cruise ship captain or for the company,” Gonzalez said.

Passengers aboard the wayward ship will receive a full refund, Carnival said.

Guests booked on the next voyage, scheduled for a Monday departure, have been given the option to cancel and receive a full refund, according to Carnival, or wait for further information.

The Coast Guard is sending a 210-foot cutter to monitor the situation.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


Dolphins Found Shot, Mutilated in Gulf of Mexico

Tom Brakefield/Stockbyte(NEW YORK) -- Authorities are investigating a string of attacks on dolphins along the Gulf Coast after some of the marine mammals were found with gunshot wounds and mutilations.

"We responded to one dolphin from Alabama that had its tail cut off," said Dr. Moby Solangi, of the Institute for Marine Mammal Studies.  "We responded to a dolphin this morning from Ship Island that had its lower jaw cut off.  In the last week, we had a dolphin with a bullet hole in it."

In response, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has asked officials to be on alert for any attacks in the waters off of Louisiana, Mississippi and Florida.

"I think it's important that everyone understand that this is not only cruel, but it's also illegal," Solangi said.

If the perpetrators are caught, they could face up to a year in jail and fines of up to $100,000.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Body Believed to Be Missing Worker Found Near Site of Oil Rig Blast

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- A body believed to be one of the workers missing since an oil rig in the Gulf of Mexico exploded was recovered late Saturday night in the water near the platform.

A private dive team hired by Houston-based Black Elk Energy found the remains of an unidentified person Saturday night, U.S. Coast Guard spokesman Carlos Vega said.

The Coast Guard has suspended its search, but John Hoffman, president and CEO of Black Elk Energy, which owns the platform, vowed to continue looking for the second worker.

The two workers jumped from the burning platform into the Gulf of Mexico after their oil rig exploded off the coast of Louisiana Friday.

The Coast Guard had been working for more than 24 hours to find the rig workers, whose names and genders have not been released. Air and sea units searched for what they believed would be two survivors.

But on Saturday night, the search was suspended.

The rig was not producing oil on Friday morning when the explosion occurred. Black Hawk Energy, which owns the platform, said one of 22 contractors on board mistakenly grabbed a blow torch instead of a saw to cut a pipe line that had 28 gallons of oil inside, igniting the blast. Everyone on board was employed by Grand Isle Shipyard, not Black Elk.

Of the 11 injured workers who were air-lifted to safety, four had severe burns. No deaths have been reported.

The rig had been expected to begin oil production again later this month. Because the rig was offline, the Coast Guard said there is little risk of a major spill.

"The environmental threat as we know, there were 28 gallons that potentially were in that 3-inch line, 75 feet long, which would equate to 28 gallons of product," said Ed Cubanski, chief of the U.S. Coast Guard response.

As of Friday evening, an oil sheen spread to half a square mile from the 28 gallons, which is less than what an SUV gas tank might hold.

The Louisiana explosion is a reminder of the 2010 Deepwater Horizon spill about 85 miles away, which made headlines this week when BP agreed to a $4.5 billion settlement and two BP officials were charged with manslaughter. But that spill amounted to 210 million gallons, and resulted in 11 deaths.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Coast Guard Calls Off Search for Missing Oil Rig Workers

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- The Coast Guard called off the search for two workers Saturday who jumped from the burning platform into the Gulf of Mexico after their oil rig exploded off the coast of Louisiana Friday.

The Coast Guard had been working for more than 24 hours to find the rig workers, whose names and genders have not been released. Air and sea units searched for what they believed would be two survivors.

"The search is suspended pending further developments," the Coast Guard said in a news release Saturday night.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Isaac Makes Second Landfall; Levee Overtopped in Southeast Louisiana

NOAA-NASA GOES Project(NEW ORLEANS) -- The center of Hurricane Isaac made a second landfall over Port Fourchon, La., early Wednesday, overtopping a levee southeast of New Orleans and leaving thousands in the dark.

Emergency management officials in Plaquemines Parish reported "overtopping of a levee from Braithwaite to White Ditch," according to the National Weather Service.  "This will result in significant deep flooding in this area."

As of 6 a.m. Wednesday, Isaac is still packing winds of 80 mph and the eye of the storm is about 50 miles south-southwest of New Orleans.  The storm is moving at just 6 mph and has already dropped more than six inches of rain on New Orleans on the seventh anniversary of Hurricane Katrina.  

The hurricane had moved back into the Gulf of Mexico after making its initial landfall Tuesday evening.  Isaac's center remained over water where it was almost stationary before making landfall again Wednesday morning.

Entergy New Orleans listed more than 400,000 homes and businesses without power as of 5:30 a.m. Wednesday, according to their website.  The Red Cross, meanwhile, reported 18,000 people in 70 shelters across five states Wednesday morning.

Hurricane Isaac is expected to gradually weaken and move inland, dumping seven to 14 inches of rain across Louisiana, with some places receiving up to 20 inches, according to forecasters.

The greatest concern is an expected storm surge of between six and 12 feet off the Louisiana and Mississippi coasts, four to eight feet along the Alabama coast and three to six feet on the Florida Panhandle, according to the Hurricane Center located in Miami.

A storm surge of 11 feet was reported at Shell Beach, La., late Tuesday, while a surge of 6.7 feet was reported in Waveland, Miss., according to the Hurricane Center.

Isolated tornadoes are possible along the central Gulf Coast region and part of the lower Mississippi River Valley through Wednesday, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

Thursday night into Saturday, Isaac will move into the Mississippi Valley and eventually into Illinois and Indiana, bringing possibly six inches of rain to the drought stricken Midwest.

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Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Tropical Storm Isaac's Slow Pace Makes It More Dangerous

NOAA-NASA GOES Project(NEW ORLEANS, La.) -- Tropical Storm Isaac's plodding pace through the Gulf of Mexico means the slow-moving storm could punish coastal areas with up to 36 hours of tropical winds and 10 to 16 inches of rain, Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal warned Monday.

Isaac, which is packing winds of 65 mph, is expected to strengthen to a Category 1 hurricane with winds of at least 74 mph by the time it reaches land late Tuesday or early Wednesday.

Jindal said the threat that New Orleans would be inundated on the seventh anniversary of the devastating Hurricane Katrina was lessening.

FEMA director Craig Fugate and the National Hurricane Center's Dr. Rick Knabb say there has been too much focus on New Orleans bracing for Isaac on the anniversary of Katrina.

"I think people need to understand this is not a New Orleans storm. This is a Gulf Coast storm," Fugate said today.

Fugate and Jindal warned people in low lying areas to get out of Isaac's way.

"Today is the day," Jindal said. "Today is the final day you should be taking any final precautions. If you want to evacuate, today is the day to do that."

Overnight, 50,000 people had already evacuated from southeast Louisiana's St. Charles parish. In addition, 2,000 jail inmates have been moved out of Isaac's expected path.

Jindal said over 4,000 National Guardsmen will be mobilized in case of emergency, but said he does not anticipate having to activate contraflow highway rules for evacuation purposes.

While not packing winds of some stronger hurricanes, Isaac's slow pace means it "could actually cause more damage," the governor said.

He said the storm could batter areas with tropical winds for up to 36 hours and could dump more than a foot of rain while lingering over some areas.

Jindal said he is skipping the Republican National Convention in Florida where he was expected to speak because of Isaac. "I will not be speaking or attending the Republican National Convention in Florida. There is no time for politics here in Louisiana," he said.

Fugate warned that Isaac's biggest punch may land in Alabama or Mississippi. The National Hurricane Center said to expect a storm surge of at least six feet with the possibility it could reach up to 12 feet.

Alabama and Mississippi have already joined Louisiana in declaring states of emergency. A tropical storm warning is in effect along the Texas and Louisiana border.

The storm is currently off the west coast of Florida and is moving in the direction of the northern Gulf Coast.

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Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


200-Year-Old Shipwreck Discovered in Gulf of Mexico

NOAA Okeanos Explorer Program(NEW YORK) -- Scientists have discovered a 19th-century shipwreck off the coast of the Gulf of Mexico. They made the find during an expedition led by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management.

Researchers, working from the NOAA ship Okeanos Explorer, found remnants of a wooden-hulled vessel that is believed to be about 200 years old.

Using underwater robots and high-definition cameras, scientists found a wealth of artifacts, including anchors, navigation equipment, glass bottles, ceramic plates, an iron stove, cannons and a box of muskets.

“This discovery was part of a larger mission to look at unknown or poorly-known areas in the Gulf of Mexico,” said Frank Cantelas, a maritime archaeologist with NOAA’s Office of Ocean Exploration and Research.

According to NOAA, “the 56-day expedition that ended April 29 was exploring poorly known regions of the Gulf, mapping and imaging unknown or little-known features and habitats, developing and testing a method to measure the rate that gas rises from naturally-occurring seeps on the seafloor, and investigating potential shipwreck sites.”

Using sonar technology, researchers had a first look last fall at what turned out to be the site of the shipwreck.

According to Cantelas, Shell Oil Company was conducting an oil and gas survey required by the government to be sure none of its projects are disturbing anything sensitive in the ocean.

“The site is in over 4,000 feet of water and we knew nothing about it -- we just had a fuzzy image from a sonar recording, which is like a camera but uses sound instead of light,” Cantelas said. “But we wanted to see what it was because it was shaped like it could be a shipwreck.”

So NOAA partnered with the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM), which issues permits for bottom-disturbing activities related to oil and gas exploration, to find the 200-year-old shipwreck.

The ship used telepresence technology to transmit what was happening on the ship live.

“Telepresence provides the ability to bring a lot of different specialists, who have various expertise, to the table during the dive,” said Fred Gorell, public affairs officer for NOAA’s office of Exploration and Research. “They could actually look at the wreck sites while it was happening. And this way research is not limited by the number of people who are actually on the ship.”

“Artifacts in and around the wreck and the hull’s copper sheathing may date the vessel to the early to mid-19th century,” said Jack Irion, a maritime archaeologist with BOEM, in a NOAA statement. “Some of the more datable objects include what appears to be a type of ceramic plate that was popular between 1800 and 1830, and a wide variety of glass bottles. A rare ship’s stove on the site is one of only a handful of surviving examples in the world and the second one found on a shipwreck in the Gulf of Mexico.”

And researchers hope this discovery will help in other areas.

“Archaeologically, this is a very significant find,” Cantelas said. “It appears to date back to the early 1800s and a lot was going on in the Gulf of Mexico around that time. You have the Louisiana Purchase, the Texas Revolution, the Mexican-American War -- a lot of conflict in that region -- so this research will hopefully help us fill in the blank pages of history. It will provide information that we don’t really know about the history of the Gulf region.”

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Unresponsive Plane Crashes in Gulf of Mexico

File photo. iStockphoto/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- A twin-engine aircraft crashed into the Gulf of Mexico after the pilot was unresponsive for nearly three hours and radar tracked the plane flying aimlessly in loops.

The FAA lost radio contact with the Cessna 412 before 9 a.m. ET. It was circling at approximately 28,000 feet. Fully loaded, the plane was carrying about 3.5 hours worth of fuel. Only the pilot was thought to be on board.

The plane took off from Slidell, La., and was en route to Sarasota, Fla., according to a flight plan. Somewhere between the two points, it began flying in circles.

Officials at NORAD confirmed that the air defense agency has launched two F-15 fighter aircraft to intercept the general aircraft over the Gulf of Mexico.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Gulf of America: Mississippi Bill Would Rename Gulf

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(JACKSON, Miss.) -- If a bill passes in Mississippi, maps and textbooks may need to be re-written.

Democrat state Rep. Steve Holland proposed a bill that would rename the Gulf of Mexico to the “Gulf of America.”

“For all official purposes within the state of Mississippi, the body of water that is located directly south...shall be known as the ‘Gulf of America’,” the bill states. The bill, if passed by the legislature and signed by the governor, would go into effect July 1.

Still, that may be a tall order. There is a Republican majority in all branches of government in Mississippi and Holland does not agree with Republican viewpoints on immigration.

“They are trying to really discriminate against immigrants, which offends me severely,” Holland told ABC News.  “I just thought if we’re gonna get into it, we might as well all get into it, it’s purely tongue and cheek.”

Holland said the bill, meant to mock other bills drilling down on immigration, is getting a lot of attention, which was the point in the first place. He does not expect it to go anywhere.

“It’s to bring the attention that things are going south with legislation in this country and not the kind of south I would like,” Holland said.

Not everyone thinks House Bill No. 150 is the most appropriate way to draw attention to the issue of immigration.

“I was just astonished that someone would propose a bill such as that,” Bob Quasius, President of Cafe Con Leche Republicans, told ABC News.  The group, self-described as dedicated to making America and GOP a friendly place for immigrants, released a letter asking Holland to withdraw the bill.

“Later we heard that he [Holland] was saying that it was just a piece of satire -- it’s not a good topic for satire and it never should have been introduced as a bill,” said Quasius.

Quasius does not believe the bill is drawing the right kind of attention and brings Holland’s credibility into question in as well as wasting taxpayer funds.  The group has not yet decided if they will take further action. They want to give Holland more time to withdraw the bill.

“We’re still asking for him to pull the bill, apologize and move on,” he said.  “The bottom line -- he submitted a bill that is unacceptable and an embarrassment.”

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


White House Expands Off-Shore Drilling

Digital Vision/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- The White House announced Tuesday that it is opening up new drilling in the Gulf of Mexico and off the coast of Alaska, allowing for the development of “more than 75 percent of undiscovered technically recoverable oil and gas resources on the [Outer Continental Shelf],” according to Interior Secretary Ken Salazar.

“Expanding safe and responsible oil and gas production from the OCS is a key component of our comprehensive energy strategy to grow America’s energy economy, and will help us continue to reduce our dependence on foreign oil and create jobs here at home,” Salazar said in a statement.

While the program plans 15 offshore lease sales from 2012 to 2017, it keeps the Atlantic and Pacific seaboards off-limits, thus allowing the White House to walk a fine line between pleasing drilling proponents and appeasing environmentalists who oppose increased drilling.

The majority of lease sales are scheduled for areas in the Gulf, “where resource potential and interest is greatest and where infrastructure is most mature,” according to the White House.  The program also includes lease sales in the Beaufort and Chukchi Seas in the Arctic where efforts will be made to “avoid sensitive environmental resources, including areas accessed by Native Alaskans for subsistence uses.”

Obama, who first announced plans to open drilling in the Gulf and off the Alaskan coast last May, has set a target of reducing U.S. oil imports by a third by 2025.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

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