Tug Bourbon Rhode Sinks in Atlantic Ocean, Ten Crew Missing

(Update) Bourbon Group’s tug supply vessel Bourbon Rhode has sunk in adverse weather conditions caused by category four hurricane Lorenzo. Three crew members have been rescued, one was found dead and ten are still missing.

The vessel was in transit at 1200 nautical miles off Martinique Island and sixty nautical miles South-South East from the eye of hurricane Lorenzo. In particularly adverse weather conditions, the vessel was suffering water ingress at the rear part of the vessel on Thursday 26 September.

Bulk Carrier Sent to Location

A rescue operation was initiated coordinated by a crisis cell from Marseilles in close collaboration with authorities including the Regional Operational Center of Surveillance and Rescue (Cross) West Indies-Guyana. To bring the quickest support possible, the Cross asked bulk carrier SSI Excellent to change its route and assist the Bourbon Rhode. At that time, the vessel was situated 200 nautical miles south of the Bourbon Rhode. Other means of maritime support were also being mobilised as well as air support from the NHC (National Hurricane Centre). Weather conditions remained adverse during this time.

Vessel Sunk

On Saturday 28 September, a lifeboat was discovered by a Falcon 50 sent by the French navy. This type of aircraft is especially equipped for this type of mission. On board were three crew members, who were taken on board the SSI Excellent, which had arrived in the search area on Friday morning (27 September). It was then also confirmed that the Bourbon Rhode had sunk.

One Crew Member Found Dead

On Monday 30 September, Bourbon reported the death of one of the crew members of the Bourbon Rhode. The body of the missing seafarer was located by one of the aircraft involved in the search and has been recovered by one of the five vessels that came to assist.

Search Continues

Search operations for the other missing crew members are still underway. The Falcon 50 is still conducting flyovers over the search zone and five commercial vessels have changed their course to assist in the search. The NHC has also sent a plane to assist.

On Sunday evening, a capsized fast rescue craft was spotted first by the NHC aircraft and then by the Falcon 50. A commercial vessel is currently headed in its direction to try and recover it.

The French navy’s surveillance frigate Ventôse and Panther helicopter will arrive today (30 September) to assist in the search as well.

Picture by Bourbon Group.

Author: Mariska Buitendijk

Mariska Buitendijk is one of SWZ|Maritime's journalists as well as the magazine's copy editor.