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Assistance and Salvage

Salvage on the high seas – more than 30 years’ experience

Seasoned professionals, 250 people saved under difficult conditions. Strategically positioned, the Les Abeilles tugs, the Argonaute, the Alcyon and the Ailette, provide assistance in refloating and towage operations on the high seas. They also combat pollution by hydrocarbons. Since 2008, 38 assistance and salvage operations were conducted, 4 of which involved major assistance (Artemis , YM Uranus, TK Bremen, Federal Miramichi).

There are two kinds of assistance:

  • Preventive assistance by tugs: Assistance with emergency towage of a vessel that has broken down, threatening the coastline. This involves preventing an ordinary "incident" (a breakdown) from turning into a major "accident." This is the form most assistance takes: more than 800 successful operations in 30 years by our assistance tugs, scores of which might have resulted in a major environmental catastrophe!
  • Curative assistance by salvage teams: Assistance following an accident, grounding, fire on board, collisions, leaks, etc. This kind of assistance requires a response by the salvage masters and their teams. Recent examples: Rokia Delmas, MSC Napoli, and Artemis.
Les Abeilles

For assistance and salvage, 5 tugs and their crews are ready to respond around-the-clock.

4 salvage tugs (RIAS):

  • The Abeille Bourbon (Brest),
  • The Abeille Liberté (Cherbourg),
  • The Abeille Languedoc (Boulogne-sur-Mer),
  • The Abeille Flandre (Toulon),

1 oil recovery and salvage tug (BSAD):

  • The Jason (Toulon)

Backed by the expertise of 139 employees, Les Abeilles, subsidiary of BOURBON, which for more than 30 years has been in charge of protecting the French coastline, has conducted more than 437 salvage operations, escorted 465 vessels and provided more than 720 stand-by ships near vessels in trouble.

In addition to the above 5 tugs, 3 other oil recovery and salvage tug (BSAD) from the BOURBON fleet also work on coastline protection:

  • The Argonaute
  • The Alcyon
  • The Ailette
Professionals available at all times

Mastering all the assistance techniques, they are at all times:

  • In contact with salvage stations,
  • Ready to respond in support of the local teams present at the site of any incident,
  • Trained to coordinate exceptional operations.

Thus if necessary, they can mobilize a crisis unit in liaison with all the partners (State, territorial authority, shipowners, etc.) to bring to bear the resources necessary for any assistance operation.

Specialized response teams depending on the kind of operation

Always ready to respond, they are made up of:

  • Salvage and assistance professionals: salvage masters, salvage officers, salvage engineers
  • Marine architects, specialized in analyzing vessels in trouble.

The teams of the BOURBON coastline protection Activity can call on additional resources: floating cranes, barges, lightering vessels and subsea welders, etc.

They have the legal and administrative jurisdictions necessary to guarantee immediate assistance. This saving in time often proves precious when pollution risks are imminent.

The Les Abeilles company coordinates all the resources and salvage responders thereby guaranteeing the best result.

The Les Abeilles company is a member of the International Salvage Union (ISU), which includes 57 companies in 29 countries around the world, all of which specialize in salvage and assistance at sea. The members of the ISU are duty-bound to possess this high level of expertise required of salvage professionals.

Contacts :
  • 24 hour Salvage and Assistance Hotline : +33 (0)2 35 19 77 85.



Listening to and satisfying clients is the daily challenge for BOURBON’s women and men. It relies on 4 priorities:

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