Bourbon tug lost battling hurricane Lorenzo

'Bourbon Rhode' was lost while battling hurricane Lorenzo (Bourbon Offshore) 'Bourbon Rhode' was lost while battling hurricane Lorenzo (Bourbon Offshore)
Industry Database

A rescue operation was launched recently after a Luxembourg-flagged anchor-handling tug was lost while battling hurricane Lorenzo off Martinique.

The maritime world, and particularly the tug and towing community are mourning the loss of 11 of the 14 crew of the anchor-handling tug Bourbon Rhode in a reminder of the dangers all seafarers face, especially during extreme weather conditions.

The 2006-built anchor-handling tug was on passage from Las Palmas to Georgetown (Guyana) with 14 crew on board when around 1,200NM from Martinique Island and 60NM south-south east from the eye of category four hurricane Lorenzo it reported water ingress in the after part of the vessel.

Bourbon Offshore immediately activated its crisis cell in Marseilles to ensure the coordination of the rescue efforts involving close collaboration with the authorities including Regional Operational Centre of Surveillance and Rescue (CROSS) West Indies-Guyana. The bulk carrier SSI Excellent, around 200NM south of the tug’s position was asked to divert its course to assist the Bourbon Rhode.

After being sighted by a French Navy Falcon 50 aircraft, rescue teams recovered a lifeboat with three of Bourbon Rhode’s crew on board who confirmed that the tug had sunk and within a few days five commercial vessels, the French navy frigate Ventôse and two aircraft were involved in the search.

Sadly, the bodies of four of Bourbon Rhode’s crew were subsequently recovered and despite the possible sighting of a distress flare by the tug Alp Striker, at the time of writing, the intense search had yielded no results leaving seven crew members still unaccounted for.

Responding to the tragedy that highlights the dangers seafarers face, Gael Bodénès, Bourbon CEO stated: “Bourbon and all its employees are in mourning today and I would like to reiterate our sincere condolences and our full support to the families and loved ones of the victims. We are working in close cooperation with the various stakeholders to understand the facts and circumstances of this tragedy. Finally, we thank the entire maritime community for its many signs of solidarity, so precious in these difficult times. I would like to reiterate our heartfelt thanks to the CROSS teams, the crews of the French Navy and the commercial vessels involved in the search operations.”

By Peter Barker

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