ITF Calls on France to Continue Search for Bourbon Rhode Crew

bourbon rhode
Bourbon Rhode. Photo courtesy Bourbon

The International Transport Workers’ Federation has joined Ukrainian and Croatian maritime unions in demanding that the search for seven missing Bourbon Rhode seafarers continues in the mid-Atlantic.

The Luxembourg-flagged Bourbon Rhode sank on September 26 after becoming caught in Hurricane Lorenzo, a category 4 hurricane at the time. At the time of the incident, the vessel was in transit in the central Atlantic around 1,200 nautical miles off the French Martinique island.

The ship was crewed by 14 sailors Ukrainian, Russian, South African, Filipino and Croatian seafarers.

Search and rescue operations coordinated by the Regional Operational Centre of Surveillance and Rescue (CROSS) have resulted in the recovery a lifeboat with three Ukrainian survivors, as well as recovering the bodies of four seafarers. Since October 1, no more survivors or bodies have been found.

Seven remain missing.

According to the ITF, the three Ukrainian seafarers rescued indicated that some of the missing seven crew members were successful in entering a life raft and there is a possibility that they are still alive.

Additionally, on October 8, two seafarers onboard the Alp Striker reported that they had seen what could have been a distress flare, and the European Maritime Safety Agency (EMSA) informed authorities of an unknown object spotted via satellite could be a life raft.

A subsequent search for the source of the possible flare did not turn up anything.

Despite these reports, French authorities and Bourbon announced that search operations will be scaled down.

ITF maritime coordinator Jacqueline Smith on Monday called directly on the French Government to continue search and rescue operations and redeploy all resources and also called on the US and other nations to provide assistance in the search.

“The entire ITF family express our deep condolences to the families of four seafarers who have lost their loved ones, and also extend our thoughts to the missing crew and their families and pray for their safe return,” said Smith

“As Croatia’s Minister of Foreign and European Affairs said earlier this week, not all options have been exhausted. Together with our affiliates, the Seafarers Union of Croatia and the Marine Transport Workers’ Trade Union of Ukraine, we demand that the search continues while there is still a glimmer of hope that the missing seafarers are alive,” said Smith.

Families and friends of missing Bourbon Rhode seafarers have launched a petition urging authorities to continue the search for the missing Croatian master and six Ukrainian crew members. To date, the petition has attracted over 43,000 signatures since it was launched on October 5.

The petition can be found here.