Published: May 25, 2010 8:57 PM EDT
Updated: May 25, 2010 5:52 PM EDT

JACKSON, Miss. (AP) - Eleven men who died in the April 20 rig explosion that spawned the massive oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico were honored Tuesday in a somber memorial service with tributes from country music stars and drilling company executives.

Transocean Ltd., owner of the Deepwater Horizon oil rig, organized the event, held under tight security at the Jackson Convention Complex. Police patrolled outside on motorcycles and in cruisers. Transocean CEO Steven Newman said those attending were a community bound by a tragic accident. Country music group Diamond Rio performed "I Believe."

Singer Trace Adkins spoke to the crowd by video, describing how he worked on Gulf oil rigs before making it big as a singer. His song, "Missing You," about working offshore was played in video with images of the workers. It was impossible to judge the reactions of those in attendance.

Reporters weren't allowed into the memorial but were ushered into a room where the service was broadcast on closed circuit television. Before the memorial began, an image on the screen showed 11 hardhats placed in a semicircle around a white cross.

The Deepwater Horizon was being operated by BP about 40 miles southeast of the mouth of the Mississippi River when it exploded late in the evening of April 20. The rig sank two days later.