Offshore Tug Bourbon Rhode in Distress After Getting Caught in Hurricane Lorenzo

Bourbon Offshore Tug in Distress After Getting Caught in Hurricane Lorenzo

A rescue operation is underway for a Bourbon tug with fourteen crew members on board after the vessel found itself caught near the eye of Hurricane Lorenzo in the Atlantic Ocean.

It is strange that there are no AIS position reports already since September 19 after it left Las Palmas a couple of days earlier. Ship was bound for Georgetown, Guyana,

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The last ping marinetraffic is showing is from 0530hrs UTC yesterday the 26th SE of the area being canvassed by the STI bulker.

“… found itself caught near…”

That’s neither hear nor there at this point. We all should be hoping they make it through


News items are now calling it a search rather than assist.

This is from gcaptain: Update: Bourbon Offshore Tug Missing After Getting Caught in Hurricane Lorenzo

Update: A search for the offshore tug Bourbon Rhode with fourteen people on board is now underway with a general cargo ship now in the search zone.

Bourbon said in a update that weather conditions remain particularly adverse in the search area due to impacts from Hurricane Lorenzo.

According to reports on social media, at least one NOAA hurricane hunter aircraft have been diverted to assist in the search. “Other maritime means are being mobilized in order to provide assistance to the crew, as well as air support from NHC (National Hurricane Center),” Bourbon said in an update.

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

“The crisis cell is working in very close cooperation with the Cross. BOURBON’s teams are mobilized to keep the families of the crew members informed and bring them full support in this difficult time,” Bourbon said.

On Thursday, the NWS National Hurricane Center reported that Hurricane Lorenzo had maximum sustained winds of near 140 mph with higher gusts, a major category 4 hurricane on the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale. Hurricane-force winds extended outward up to 45 miles from the center with tropical-storm-force winds extended outward up to 255 miles, according to the NHC.

The storm weakened slightly on Friday, but remained a Category 4 hurricane with sustained winds of 140 m.p.h.

Here is Workboat from 7 hrs ago:

Search for tug caught in hurricane continues, cargo ship arrives in area


Satellite image of Hurricane Lorenzo in the eastern North Atlantic Ocean on September 25 (Photo: NASA/NRL)

Hurricane-force winds extended outward up to 45 miles from the center with tropical-storm-force winds extended outward up to 255 miles, according to the NHC.

The French offshore vessels owner said water is entering the stern of the 49.5 meter tug supply vessel Bourbon Rhode, about 60 nautical miles south-southeast from the eye of hurricane Lorenzo.

The US National Hurricane Center said on Thursday morning the category 4 storm is packing maximum sustained winds of 130 miles per hour and moving west-northwest at 13 miles per hour, that is a considerable speed. Normally a hurricane starts with moving at slow speeds, later usually on higher latitudes the speed increases.

No idea what really happened. It could be that Lorenzo caught them more or less by surprise as they were encountering that hurricane in a very easterly position, which it seems was never before observed. Coming from Las Palmas they could have ended up in one of the two right, dangerous quadrants, which is not good, especially not since water was entering the stern,


SSI Excellent has obviously arrived at the scene, moving at slow speed and is circling around. No information yet what’s going on, but the Bourbon Rhode’s AIS is still off, last signal received 25 hours ago, looks like the tug sank but then one would expect to find some telltale debris in the water.

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Update from Bourbon - Tug sunk,3 crew recovered so far



Three crew members from a tugboat that issued a distress call on Thursday in waters dangerously close to Hurricane Lorenzo were found safe in a lifeboat Saturday.

The French Maritime Rescue Coordination Center confirmed the rescue to early Saturday afternoon.

“We have found a life raft with three persons on board," MRCC manager Philippe Bricquer said in a phone interview. “Two of them are a little bit tired but the last one is in very good condition.”

There was no word on the 11 other crew members still missing from the tug Bourbon Rhode.

“We know that there were four life rafts on this ship. We found one," Bricquer said. "I’m not sure that the three others left the ship.”

The Bourbon Rhode sank Thursday with 14 crew on board. An emergency beacon indicated the boat was in the center of Hurricane Lorenzo.

Same site - Three Rescued After Tugboat Sinks in Hurricane Lorenzo; NOAA Hurricane Planes Aid in Search

  • The Bourbon Rhode sank Thursday with 14 crew on board.
  • An emergency beacon indicated the boat was in the center of Hurricane Lorenzo.
  • The three survivors are reported to be in good health.

Sounds like they were in or near the eye wall.

Bricquer said the survivors were found by a French search plane at about 9 a.m. UTC on Saturday. They reported that the boat had sunk Thursday, around midday UTC.

An emergency beacon indicated the Bourbon Rhode was in the center of the hurricane.

“They were a little bit north of the eye,” Bricquer said.

I cannot find the ‘past track’ on Marine Traffic and others, you have to be a paying customer. It would be helpful if this track becomes available.

Lorenzo has now become a hurricane of the 5th category and is on a collision course with the Azores where it will arrive in a couple of days. By then the hurricane will peprobably be less strong but even then a lot of damage can be expected. The present speed at which Lorenzo is traveling is 15 km/h or 8 nm/h.

Meteorologists are baffled by the fact that a hurricane can develop in such a northerly and easterly position, it never happened before. The weather systems are really off these days…

Another Bourbon update - incl. upturned Fast Rescue Craft seen…

Quote from the above link:

Yesterday, in the beginning of the night, a capsized fast rescue craft was spotted first by the NHC aircraft and then by the Falcon 50. A commercial vessel engaged in the operation is currently headed in its direction in order to try to recover it.

The mentioned fast rescue craft is probably the orange craft seen in the photo. I suppose that, given that I had a choice, in these weather circumstances I would prefer the much stabler floating life raft to get of the ship.

This is the Fast Rescue Craft that is required on vessels like this, acting as Field Support Vessel at times.
It is stable enough once launched, but not “float free” and not intended as a lifeboat.

A vessel like this should be able to handle just about anything, if battened down properly and propulsion operational. (??)

She was in transit to a new assignment, thus not likely to have carried any deck cargo that could have shifted and caused damages, that again could cause downflooding.
Or has anybody any info to the contrary??

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No, a slender, light and open built fast rescue craft is not exactly a seaworthy craft or lifeboat. Its performance depends largely on engine power and fuel reserve, without these it is helpless.

I think ombugge was referring to the rescue boat separately from the tug in the previous post


As the center approaches, rain falls in torrents. The wind fury increases. The seas become mountainous. The tops of huge waves are blown off to mingle with the rain and fill the air with water. Visibility is virtually zero in blinding rain and spray. Even the largest and most seaworthy vessels become virtually unmanageable, and may sustain heavy damage. Less sturdy vessels may not survive. Navigation virtually stops as safety of the vessel becomes the only consideration. The awesome fury of this condition can only be experienced. Words are inadequate to describe it.


Old Nathaniel Bowditch certainly knew what he was talking about. Any deficiencies will be found in those conditions. My prayers are with the missing crew and their families. I knew none of the crew but I have sixteen friends who never made the return voyage. A loss like this hits me hard.