April 26, 2007
Bourbon Dolphin inquiry starts
An inquiry into the April 12 loss of the AHTS Bourbon Dolphin with eight of its 15 crew opened Wednesday in Alesund, Norway.
Among the witnesses was first mate Geir Syvertsen, 32, who, according to a report in The Scotsman, said the vessel was working with the British vessel Highland Valour in a routine operation to move an oilrig's anchor and chain weighing an estimated 330 tonnes.
According to the newspaper, Syvertsen said the boats had nearly collided while struggling with the anchor in strong winds.
The Highland Valour repeatedly tried to hook on to the chain to assist the Bourbon Dolphin in hauling the weight on to its rear platform, without success.
Syvertsen said there may have been a misunderstanding, leading the Highland Valour to pull the chain the wrong way, which increased the pull on the port side of the Bourbon Dolphin.
"The captain asked me to hit a button for the emergency release mechanism for the chain and wires," the newspaper also quotes him as saying. "That was done to save the ship. I thought it would go fast, but it didn't. The system only released 12 meters per minute."
The maritime inquiry into the sinking of the Bourbon Dolphin will be followed on Friday by the naming of an investigative commission that will examine the circumstances around the tragedy.