30 September 2019






3 mins

Search crews located an overturned fast rescue craft believed to be from the tug BOURBON RHODE late Saturday, Bourbon has confirmed. The craft was first located by N43RF a Lockheed WP-3D Orion NOAA Hurricane Center aircraft. 

And again confirmed by Falcon 50 belonging to the French Navy deployed from Dakar, Senegal. A commercial vessel participating in the operation was sent to try to recover the craft. Eleven crew members remain missing. Three surviving crew members have been rescued so far. 

Five commercial vessels along with aircraft from the French Navy and U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration have participated in the search. The French Navy Floreal Class Frigate FS VENTOSE F 733 with a Eurocopter AS565 Panther helicopter are expected on scene on Monday 30th September, 2019. 

Meanwhile on Saturday 28th September Bourbon Offshore has reported that three crew members from the offshore tug BOURBON RHODE have been rescued from a liferaft in the Atlantic Ocean after the company confirms that the vessel has sunk with the search for eleven missing crew members continues.

Weather in the search zone has improved since the vessel was initially reported in distress on Thursday.

“In the context of search operations of tug supply vessel Bourbon Rhode started on September 26, the mobilized rescue teams have recovered a lifeboat with 3 crew members on board, the lifeboat having been identified by a Falcon 50 especially equipped for this type of mission and sent by the French Navy,” Bourbon Offshore said in an update on Saturday. “The 3 crew members are currently taken in charge by the medical support team onboard the commercial vessel, which provided assistance, and are currently placed under medical observation.”

bourbon rhode lifeboat
Photo courtesy Marine Nationale

Bourbon’s statement continues:

“It has been confirmed that the vessel has sunk. The search continues to be carried out in weather conditions that are improving. All necessary means are implemented by the Cross AG and the French Navy, under the authority of the Prefect representing the State’s maritime authority, namely numerous flyovers carried out by the Falcon 50 over the search zone. Numerous commercial vessels have had their course changed in order to bring assistance, as well as a plane of the U.S. National Hurricane Center.

“The crisis cell put into place by BOURBON works in very close collaboration with the Cross AG and the French Navy. BOURBON’s teams are mobilized to keep the families of the crew members informed and bring them full support in this difficult time.”

France based Bourbon Offshore reported previously her offshore tug BOURBON RHODE, with a crew of fourteen, was in transit approximately 1,200 nautical miles off Martinique island, located in the Caribbean Sea, when she sent a distress signal that was picked up by French authorities on Thursday morning after she became caught in Hurricane Lorenzo. At one point the tug was reported as being just 60 nautical miles from the eye of Lorenzo, which at the time was a major Category 4 hurricane, according to Bourbon. The vessel was initially reported to be experiencing water ingress in the rear part of the vessel.

The rescue is being coordinated by the Regional Operational Center of Surveillance and Rescue (Cross) of West Indies-Guyana.

Bourbon Rhode is part of Bourbon’s fleet of terminal tugs which provide assistance operations, standby, and support of offshore oil and gas terminals, and is specialized in assisting FPSOs.

Images of French Navy Falcon 50 aircraft are at Malta back to 11th June, 2010

Photos by Capt. Lawrence Dalli. Do not use these images without my permission. © All rights reserved. Malta Ship Photos & Action Photos –

Published – Monday 30th September 2019

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