An offshore supply boat, owned by Galveston-based Ocean Runner Inc., and its five-member crew sank after colliding with another ship Saturday near the mouth of the Mississippi River.
The vessel's wreckage is blocking the Southwest Pass, the only entrance into the river for deep draft ocean-going vessels, and has created a back-up of at least 40 ships into the Gulf of Mexico.
The five missing men were aboard the 178-ftLee III, which was carrying about 30,000 gal of diesel fuel, when it collided with the 534-ft container ship Zim Mexico III in fog on Saturday morning, 80 mi southeast of New Orleans.
The channel will remain closed until the search for the crew concludes.
Searchers have found life vests and preservers and a raft floating near the sunken ship. Investigators are assessing possible environmental damage and safety conditions connected to the leaking fuel.
B. Rickmers GMBH Cie owns the Zim Mexico III and the Zim American Israeli Shipping Co. operates it.