Mermaid settles “murder at sea” allegations

Mermaid Marine has announced a settlement with four plaintiffs over last year's "murder at sea" allegations, which claimed the life of a Queensland oil worker.

The company faced United States-based action over the alleged abandonment of 10 crew members during Hurricane Nate.

The workers abandoned an offshore oil rig after it was damaged in the storm, and the Mermaid Vigilance vessel, which was in the region, did not attempt a rescue.

Four of the ten employees drowned or died of hypothermia at sea, including 33-year-old Aaron Houweling from Queensland.

After the accident Mermaid said it was "deeply saddened by the tragic loss of the four personnel" and its ship turned for shore instead of attempting a rescue in order to protect its crew.

In a statement Mermaid said neither it nor its insurers were required to contribute payment towards the settlement.

"The four plaintiffs with whom settlement has been reached are Mr Ted Derise, Mr Jeremy Parfait, the Estate of Mr Craig Myers (deceased) and the Estate of Mr Nicholas Reed (deceased)," it said.

Mermaid said action by the Houweling family against Geokinetics, another company involved in the accident, had also been resolved and Mermaid was "not required to make any contribution".

Mermaid said there was the possibility further claims might be made against it over the accident and other companies were still involved in US legal proceedings.

"The loss of life at sea in this incident was a terrible tragedy but MMA continues to support the actions of the Master of the Mermaid Vigilance who had to make the difficult but correct decision to protect the lives of the 37 crew and passengers on board the vessel," it said.

Image: The Trinity II liftboat, courtesy AP

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