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Norway: Memorial services were held over the weekend in both the Shetland Islands and back home in Norway where the vessel and its crew were based.

Posted by African Press International on April 16, 2007

The sinking late Sunday night of the overturned Bourbon Dolphin dashed any hopes of rescuing or even finding the bodies of the last five persons on board. Memorial services were held over the weekend in both the Shetland Islands and back home in Norway where the vessel and its crew were based.

Managing director Trond Myklebust of Bourbon Offshore (center) called the vessel’s sudden sinking a “shock.” He’s flanked by Thorbjørn Holt (left), pastor of the Norwegian Seaman’s Church in the Shetland Islands, and personnel consultant Erhard Hermansen.

PHOTO: Håkon Mosvold Larsen / SCANPIX

Memorial services were held for victims and their survivors in the Shetland Islands on Sunday, and also in Norway.

PHOTO: HÅKON MOSVOLD LARSEN / SCANPIX

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News of the sinking was the latest bitter blow for those who survived last week’s sudden capsize of the AHTS (anchor handling tug and supply) vessel and the families of those who didn’t.

The vessel’s owner had been scrambling to salvage the ship, and hopes were high that it could be towed to land in the Shetland Islands.

Hopes already had been fading that any of the four crew members and teenage son of one of them could be found alive. Their families had clung to the idea that maybe they’d found an air pocket in the overturned vessel and could still be rescued.

But as the weekend wore on, treacherous waters in the infamously stormy North Sea had made it too dangerous for divers to enter the wreckage. Attempts to locate any survivors were abandoned.

Anxious loved ones then hoped they’d at least be able to recover bodies to bury. That didn’t happen. The capsizing left three crew members confirmed dead, after their bodies were found floating in the sea. Seven survived the capsizing. The five others who remain unaccounted for are believed to have been trapped in the vessel’s machine room and on its bridge.

‘Huge shock’
Trond Myklebust of the company owning the vessel, Bourbon Offshore, called the sinking “a huge shock.” The vessel is believed to have settled at a depth of 1,100 meters.

Salvage operations were difficult, and officials said the vessel “destabilized” when its heavy anchor chains were cut. It sunk after taking on a surge of water.

Bourbon management and officials from their insurance carrier Gard met throughout the night to resolve a situation initially described as “chaotic.” Myklebust said there remained a chance the company would try to raise the sunken vessel from the seabed.

The cause of the vessel’s capsizing late last week is under investigation. Vessels like the Bourbon Dolphin are used to supply oil platforms, tow them to location, anchor them up and serve as rescue and recovery ships themselves.

By Nina Berglund

Lifted and published by African Press in Norway, apn, africanpress@chello.no tel +47 932 99 739 or +47 6300 2525 source.aftenposteneng.

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