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Oil workers on foreign-flagged ships are at the mercy of corporations

Loopholes in U.S. law allow oil and gas companies to evade labor and environmental regulations and avoid compensating injured workers.

Billboards for maritime injury lawyers line the roads of Lafourche Parish, Louisiana. [Photo Credit: Sara Sneath, Floodlight] By Sara Sneath for Floodlight


As Hurricane Ida zeroed in on Louisiana, Howell McIntyre was trapped nearly 100 miles offshore aboard a 620-foot drillship named the Globetrotter II. The Category 4 storm pummeled the ship with 150 mph winds and waves as tall as oak trees, threatening to capsize it.


McIntyre was knocked against a wall, banging his head and knees. Another worker, Michael Brunner, was thrown from his bed and slammed into lockers.


“The entire crew believed they were going to die,” reads one lawsuit filed against employers Noble Drilling and Shell Oil on behalf of 10 crew members injured on the ship that day.


Out of more than 100 workers aboard when Ida hit, at least 13 are suing for compensation related to traumatic brain and back injuries. They say the companies failed to send a helicopter to evacuate them, even as the storm’s danger became clear.