Tug-boat survivors mourn crew lost in Shetland capsize

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The Independent Online

The families of those who died in the Bourbon Dolphin held a memorial service on a remote beach yesterday as one of the survivors spoke of the moment last Thursday when the supply tug sank in the North Atlantic, killing eight people.

"I'm very glad to have been rescued but it's so difficult to sit here because there are others in the boat that didn't come out," said an emotional Egil Hafsas.

He was among survivors and relatives who cast single roses into the sea at a small service on the Sands of Sound beach at Lerwick. Tearfully, they clung to each other as they remembered the eight victims, including 14-year-old David Remoy who had been on work experience with his father Oddne Arve Remoy, 44, when they both perished.

There were 15 crew on board the Norwegian oil rig supply tug when it capsized 75 miles north-west of Shetland. Seven were saved and three bodies were recovered. Another five are presumed dead, trapped within the hull. Mr Hafsas said: "The boat began to tilt left and then back to almost normal. I thought, 'Should I go and put on the life jacket?'

"The boat was leaning more and more when I realised that it was definitely going to go wrong. I screamed to all the men that we must get out of here." Moments later, the boat rolled over.

He continued: "What happened on board, happened fast," explaining he had clung on to a container along with other survivors.

"We talked together, and talked and talked all the time to keep our spirits up," he said, adding: "I was reasonably confident that sooner or later [rescuers] would have to come."

The others believed to have died are Bjarte Grimstad, 37, from Hareid, Kjetil Rune Vge, 31, from Alesund, Frank Nygrd, 42, from Hareid, Ronny Emblem, 25, from Alesund, Sren Kroer, 27, from rum Djurs, Denmark, and Tor Karl Sand, 54, also of Alesund.

Bourbon Offshore managing director Trond Myklebust explained that, in addition to yesterday's memorial service, relatives would take a flight to the location and fly around the boat.

"It is so everybody can see the boat, the environment, and try and visualise what would have been going on. We think that is very important for the relatives and this is something they want."

The specialist firm appointed to carry out the salvage operation - Smit Salvage, based in the Netherlands - prepared to tow the Bourbon Dolphin to shallow water off the coast of Shetland. Mr Myklebust said: "What is important from our side is that this will be done in a safe manner because the most important thing is that we keep the boat afloat so we are able to find the people inside. It is very important for relatives to have a grave."

He defended the decision to allow a schoolboy on board the tug. "We have a very strong community for the offshore industry and it's very common that boys who are interested in this join these vessels," he said.

The 250ft boat, which is less than a year old, had been undertaking a routine operation at the drilling rig Transocean Rather when it capsized on Thursday, around a mile from the rig.

Shetland Coastguard confirmed on Friday that the search for the remaining crew had been called off.

Royal Navy divers from Faslane on the Clyde searched around the boat and wheelhouse but found nothing and it was deemed too dangerous to try to get inside the hull.