When you tuna fish the offshore oil rigs in the Gulf of Mexico, talk inevitably turns to the escape pods which hang precariously off the sides of the rigs.

“Dude? It’s just got to hurt when that thing hits the water,” I recall saying to Captain Devlin Roussel the first time I laid eyes on a pod. “Although I’m guessing that if you need to use one of ’em, you probably don’t much care–you just want out!”

Oil rig escape pods are the only emergency exit off an oil rig. Depending on their manufacture, the small watertight vessels hold approximately 10 people and are either dropped or lowered into the ocean via wire cable in the event of a rig evacuation. The vessels are quite seaworthy and are propelled by an onboard engine and rudder.

Coast Guard search teams continue to comb the waters 50 miles off the coast of Venice, Louisiana searching for escape pods or any sign of life at all after a catastrophic explosion on the Deepwater Horizon oil rig. The rig burned violently for two days until it sank on Thursday. There are still 11 crew members listed as missing. I wondered if they even had a chance to gt to the escape pods.

I recall fishing the Horizon a couple of years ago. Caught 3 yellowfins off it that day.

“I’ve fished the Horizon several times over the past 10 years,” Roussel told me the other day. “She always seemed to hold fish and produced well for us. It’s a horrible tragedy and we can only hope that the Coast Guard manages to find the missing.”