Update (Sunday): Search crews located an overturned fast rescue craft believed to be from the Bourbon Rhode late Saturday, Bourbon has confirmed.
The craft was first located by an NWS National Hurricane Center aircraft and again confirmed by Falcon 50 belonging to the French Navy. A commercial vessel participating in the operation is was sent to try to recover the craft.
Multiple aircraft with the French Navy, NOAA, and about a half a dozen commercial vessels are participating in the search.
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’s surveillance frigate “Ventôse” with a Panther helicopter are expected on scene on Monday.
Bourbon Offshore has reported that three crew members from the offshore tug Bourbon Rhode have been rescued from a liferaft in the Atlantic Ocean.
The company confirms that the vessel has sunk.
A 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’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.”
The French Navy deployed a Falcon 50 from Dakar, as well the surveillance frigate Ventôse to assist in the search. Multiple commercial vessels are also involved in the search.
France-based Bourbon Offshore reported previously its 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 it sent a distress signal that was picked up by French authorities on Thursday morning after the became caught in Hurricane Lorenzo.
At one point the Bourbon Rhode 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 initally 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.