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The most magnificent and helpful boat in the world…

Imagine yourself Captain of a gigantic freighter, loaded with crude oil or with some other dangerous material on board, and so long and unwieldy that the power of the waves that night might snap it in two… engine failure, and there you are, castaway in the middle of the Iroise Sea, off the northwest coast of Brittany, one of the most dangerous places on the planet in terms of navigation… You’re going to sink, and trigger a major ecological disaster, broken in two by a swell over 15 metres high that night. Call for help: SOS!!!

Then, after an anxious wait, which may last a few hours or only 20 minutes, emerging from nowhere like a ghostly apparition and coming to your rescue is the powerful ocean-going tug, the Abeille-Bourbon…

Chartered by the French navy since 2005, the most magnificent and helpful boat in the world assures our safety all along the length of the Atlantic coast from England to Spain, but always linked to Brest and Brittany. Handsome and mighty, this out-of-the-ordinary ship has been specially built to withstand the harsh storms of the North Atlantic and to protect the mouth of the Channel.

 

L' Abeille Bourbonphoto by Philip Plisson who is featured in our Partner pages, site web www.plisson.com


This boat is indeed impressive, and elicits full admiration, respect and gratitude towards our marines for simply being there, watching over us and securing our coastline. It operates in all conditions and is specialised for very busy maritime zones.

Without lingering too long on the detail, the characteristics of this 80-metre vessel are remarkable: four German MAK 21,000-horsepower engines and Rolls Royce propellers drive the ship at a speed of 19.5 knots. It has the high quality finish of a ‘liner’, particularly in terms of the welding of the hull. Its tractive power is over 200 tonnes.


L' Abeille Bourbonphoto by Philip Plisson who is featured in our Partner pages, site web www.plisson.com



The Abeille-Bourbon should be capable of coming to the aid of any vessel in trouble at sea, not only petrol tankers but also ultra-large container ships which will soon be able to carry 12,000 containers, some with highly dangerous contents.

The ship is predominantly blue in colour, but with a tricolour band comprising the national colours of blue, white and red, a reminder that the French State is active at sea. The 14-year charter of the Abeille-Bourbon by the French state costs 12,850 euros per day, the ship being permanently available to the Préfet Maritime de Brest, the most senior representative of the French State. However, the State collects half of the salvage profits. The Abeille-Bourbon belongs to Abeille International, owned by the Bourbon group, and its crew is composed of 12 sailors from the merchant navy.

This emergency and salvage tug is the latest incarnation in the Abeilles International series from Bourbon, following on from: the Abeille Flandre from Brest and the Abeille Languedoc which has now been replaced by the Abeille Liberté, based in Cherbourg and the sister ship of the Abeille Bourbon. This project was established in 1999, and these two flagships have cost 51 million euros in total. They were designed by naval architect Sigmund Borgundvaag and were built by Kleven Maritim and the Myklebust shipyards in Oslo, Norway.

The evaluation and intervention team on board the Abeille Bourbon are ready to intervene at any moment, upon the order of the Préfet Maritime de Brest, and come to the aid of vessels in difficulty.


L' Abeille Bourbonphoto by Philip Plisson who is featured in our Partner pages, site web www.plisson.com


This team consists of about ten men, recruited for each mission from a number of specialists available to intervene, specially chosen according to the risk and the circumstances.

This team includes mainly officers and naval officers from various specialities, among them navigation and engineering, but also officers from Maritime Affairs, and of course specialist firefighting and rescue crew… experienced men who will make good decisions, at the right time, often in perilous and difficult conditions, to prevent vessels in distress from becoming the cause of a true catastrophe.

Bravo and thank you from us all…

Philippe.