Investigation on the loss of Bourbon Dolphin

Friday, April 20, 2007
A maritime inquiry into the loss of the Norwegian supply vessel Bourbon Dolphin, which capsized and sank off Shetland with the loss of eight lives, is due to open at a Norwegian court. Smit International has issued a statement about the sinking of the Bourbon Dolphin, which capsized on April 12th whilst performing offshore services for the drill platform Transocean Rather. Subsequently, SMIT Salvage was contracted by Bourbon Offshore Norway AS, to render salvage services to Bourbon Dolphin.

The mobilization of the necessary salvage personnel, craft and equipment started immediately. A salvage team of seven members was flown to the Shetland Islands and the anchor handling tug Zeus, equipped with a diving spread and salvage equipment departed to the casualty from Den Helder, the Netherlands. The AHT SV Highland Valour was chartered in order to depart from Lerwick, Shetland Islands, as soon as the salvage team arrived, reports said.

"Unfortunately, owing to fog conditions and reduced visibility on the Shetland Islands the salvage team encountered delays as a consequence of cancellation of inbound flights and suspension of helicopter services." "Meanwhile, discussions were held between all interested parties and the UK Secretary of State Representative with regards to releasing the casualty by cutting the pennant wire/ anchor chain to which she was connected to the drill platform. This was considered necessary because it was reported that Bourbon Dolphin was causing a threat to the drill platform and its personnel." "On Saturday 14th April in the late evening, the pennant wire was cut and the casualty was released from the platform. The AHT SV Olympic Hercules held the casualty in position awaiting the arrival of the salvage team and craft. In the early afternoon of 15th April, the master of Olympic Hercules reported a deterioration in the condition of Bourbon Dolphin. The salvage master arrived on site and established that the casualty was unstable and in the process of losing her buoyancy."

"Given the prevailing weather and sea state conditions at that time, (southwesterly wind 5 Beaufort and a sea swell of 4-5 metres) it was deemed to be unsafe to carry out the towage or even perform preparations such as a diving survey." "Bourbon Dolphin was completely submerged and the wire connection to Olympic Hercules had to be released. The vessel sank at the position of 61º 03.53N 003º 48.92 W. Tugs remained on site to monitor the area." Source: Offshore Online

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