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Marine Log

May 1, 2007

No plans to raise Bourbon Dolphin

The Gard P&I Club yesterday issued a statement reporting that it is extremely uncertain that it is technically possible to raise the BOURBON DOLPHIN.

The current situation is that the BOURBON DOLPHIN has sunk in about 1,100 meters of water in the North Atlantic Ocean about 85 nautical miles (157 kilometers) northwest of the Shetland Isles. This ocean area is outside the territorial waters of any state, but within the Exclusive Economic Zone of the United Kingdom.

London Offshore Consultants (LOC) was consulted on the technical aspects of raising the ship.

LOC's advice is:

  • The BOURBON DOLPHIN is currently at an extreme depth and has sunk in a location that is exposed to difficult wind, wave and current conditions.

  • The greatest depth from which any ship has been raised previously is about 600 meters. That ship was much smaller and lighter than the BOURBON DOLPHIN.

  • The condition of the vessel on the seabed is unknown. The hull may have suffered serious damage as it sank and hit the seabed, it may have also become partly buried on the bottom.

  • The enormous water pressure at this depth, as well varying currents at different depths of water, represents additional problems.

  • The location in the North Atlantic Ocean is remote and hostile and will only allow for operations in the summer months, and even then any activities are likely to incur significant weather downtime.

  • LOC has concluded that it is extremely uncertain that it is technically possible to raise the ship. Any method that could be attempted would, by its very nature, be untried and would require a significant period of time for research, engineering and planning.

From a legal perspective, the state that has jurisdiction over the ocean area where a ship has sunk can order it to be removed if it poses a danger to navigation or the environment, neither of which appears to be the case with the BOURBON DOLPHIN.

Bourbon Offshore is insured by Gard for legal liabilities.

Gard can only cover costs incurred in raising the BOURBON DOLPHIN if the shipowner is legally liable to comply with an order issued by a competent authority.

This means that, in the absence of such an order, Gard cannot cover the costs to raise the BOURBON DOLPHIN even if it were technically possible to do so.

Like all the other P&I Clubs, Gard only covers its shipowner members' legal liabilities. Gard cannot assume any greater responsibility to pay claims or incur costs than what follows from the legal liabilities incurred by its members.

Loss of or damage to the ship itself is covered by hull and machinery insurance.

The BOURBON DOLPHIN is regarded as a total loss, which means that the hull and machinery insurers will have to pay the sum insured, but they are not responsible for taking any other measures.