GULF OF MEXICO — Air and sea search teams continued Saturday to hunt for 10 oil workers missing in the Gulf of Mexico after they abandoned a disabled research vessel.

Five helicopters, a fixed-wing airplane and two vessels searched for the men in Mexico, said Brenda Taquino, spokesperson for Houston-based Geokinetics. Geokinetics contracted the liftboat from Trinity Liftboat Services LLC in New Iberia.

As the search goes on, Mexican authorities prepared for Tropical Storm Nate, which was moving toward the coast slowly but expected to pick up speed Saturday. The storm was projected to approach the coast Sunday, just below hurricane strength.

The workers were aboard the Trinity II liftboat, which can lower legs to the sea floor to lift the vessel above the water level. One of the legs was damaged, and the workers abandoned the sinking vessel around 12:25 p.m. Thursday. They called for help Thursday afternoon, and there has been no communication since.

An observer on a boat in the distance noticed one of the workers jumping from the Trinity II into a lifeboat. Taquino said the life raft is a sealed capsule that contains several days worth of food and water but had no communications capabilities.

Randy Reed, the father of one of the missing workers told the Houston Chronicle  – “We’re optimistic. They’re good seamen. They’re professionals at what they do.  The life raft is out there, we just haven’t found it yet … We’re all working diligently to locate the raft so we can locate our loved ones.”

Mexican navy officials on Friday night said sailors had reached the Trinity II but hadn’t found any crew members.

Schechter, Shaffer & Harris, L.L.P., Accident & Injury Lawyers has represented thousands of seamen, longshoremen, and other maritime workers, and has received outstanding recoveries for clients. SMSH has always been a strong advocate for maritime personal injury victims and the families of those who are killed while working in service of a vessel. Our concern is for the safety of those involved and helping their families find out the whereabouts and conditions of their loved ones. We have obtained multi-million dollar settlements for injured seamen and their families. The team of Jones Act attorneys and maritime lawyers at Schechter, Shaffer & Harris, L.L.P. has over 100 years of combined trial experience.