French offshore vessel owner Bourbon Offshore has canceled the search operation for the seven crew members of its Bourbon Rhode vessel that sank in the Atlantic Ocean last week. The move to cancel the search has sparked outrage in Croatia – the ship’s Captain is from Croatia – with a petition launched for the search to continue.
The offshore vessel sank last week after finding itself near the eye of a category 4 hurricane. Before the sinking, the crew sent a distress signal in which it said the vessel had developed a water ingress. There were 14 people aboard at the time of the accident. The vessel had been on its way from Las Palmas to Guyana.
So far, three crew members have been recovered alive. During this past week, four crew members have been confirmed dead and their bodies recovered, and seven Bourbon Rhode members are still missing, including Dino Miškić, the vessel’s captain from Šibenik Croatia.
In an update on Saturday, October 5, Bourbon said: “Several vessels have continued to survey the search area today, with no results for the past 4 days. The CROSS has decided to make the search operation evolve. It will regularly disseminate messages to vessels in the shipwreck zone and ask them to carry out adapted watch.”
“BOURBON and all its employees are in mourning today and I would like to reiterate our sincere condolences and our full support to the families and loved ones of the victims. We are working in close cooperation with the various stakeholders to understand the facts and circumstances of this tragedy. Finally, we thank the entire maritime community for its many signs of solidarity, so precious in these difficult times. I would like to reiterate our heartfelt thanks to the CROSS teams, the crews of the French Navy and the commercial vessels involved in search operations,” BOURBON Corporation CEO Gael Bodénès said.
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The members of the Facebook group Bourbon Rhode Rescue formed immediately after the incident as a support group for those affected, have blasted Bourbon Offshore for its decision to call off the search, and have asked for the search to continue. The group currently has more than 2000 members, with most of the active members being compatriots of the missing captain Dino Miškić.
A petition was launched on Go Petition for the search and rescue operations to be continued. The text of the petition also seems to call into question the structural integrity of the ships, saying the ship was in “poor condition.”
Here’s the part of the text of the petition launched: “You know that the Bourbon Rhode, which had 14 crew members, was in poor condition as you can see from the photograhps [sic] attached. ”
“We, the undersigned, call on all institustions [sic] to continue the rescue operation to find the seven missing Bourbon Rhode sailors!”
At the time of writing, the petition – which can be found HERE – had attracted 920 signatures.
Here’s a photo of the life raft that contained 3 survivors that have been rescued as a result of the vessel Bourbon Rhode getting too close to #HurricaneLorenzo.
Photo 3: Last known position of Bourbon Rhode. pic.twitter.com/iqoYwoTcxN
— Met. Eclipse (@TARCweather) September 28, 2019
“Scandalous and disgraceful!”
The Croatian maritime news website Morski.hr (in Croatian), has labeled the Bourbon Offshore decision as scandalous and disgraceful. The news website has also shared a letter sent by the family of the missing Bourbon Rhode captain Dino Miškić:
In the letter, the family said it had been assured by Bourbon that the search for the three missing liferafts would be continued as long as there’s any glimmer of hope to find the missing crew members.
“The three life rafts have yet not been found, and they’ve stopped the search after only seven days! We cannot and will not accept that!” the letter sent by the Miškić family reads.
“We’re pleading that you to use all your influence to make the search continue, to find the remaining three life rafts,” the Miškić family said.
Bourbon’s Facebook post announcing the halt of the official search has also been flooded with comments asking for the search for the missing sailors to continue:
The Croatian media have quoted a statement by the Croatian foreign ministry, which said: “The decision to end the search was made one week after the sinking of the ship because there is very little likelihood that further search would be fruitful, given the circumstances of the sinking of the ship and the fact that such a large area was searched. However, all merchant ships passing through the area were instructed to carefully monitor and report to the competent institutions every possible useful information.
“The Ministry of Foreign and European Affairs is aware of the great efforts of the French authorities and the relevant institutions to find the missing seafarers and is grateful for that. We deeply regret that the search to date has not produced news about the fate of our missing Captain Miškić,” the Croatian foreign ministry said.
Offshore Energy Today Staff