Tug supply vessel goes missing in hurricane-hit waters off Martinique

Photo: Bourbon Offshore

France’s Bourbon Offshore has confirmed that one of its tug supply vessels has gone missing after it sailed in bad weather brought about by a category four hurricane 1,200 nautical miles off Martinique on Thursday, September 26.

The company said the crew of Bourbon Rhode had reported water ingress at the rear of their vessel while it was 60 nautical miles south-southeast from the eye of Hurricane Lorenzo on Thursday.

A crisis committee at Marseilles was then immediately activated to ensure coordination with the authorities and other entities on the rescue of the vessel and its crew.

SSI Excellent, a Marshall Islands-flagged bulk carrier, was advised to change course and render assistance to the distressed Bourbon crew. The bulk carrier later arrived at Bourbon Rhode‘s last reported position but found no trace of the tug supply vessel.

A maritime surveillance aircraft was able to locate three of Bourbon Rhode‘s crewmembers adrift on a lifeboat two days after the vessel’s last radio transmission. The crew of one of the commercial ships in the area then rescued the survivors, who confirmed that the tug supply vessel had sunk.

Bourbon said the search for the wreck of the missing vessel and its 11 remaining crewmembers will continue as the weather in the area improves.

Other agencies involved in the search for Bourbon Rhode include the French Navy, the US National Hurricane Center, and the Regional Operational Center of Surveillance and Rescue for West Indies-Guyana.

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