30 years of service with BOURBON

Captain of the Surfer 3601, Michel Thoreux looks back on his experience in maritime passenger transport and talks about the evolution of BOURBON's Surfers. 

You could say that Michel Thoreux is the keeper of part of BOURBON's memory. Joining the group in 1988, he first served as an able seaman in Brest on a supply vessel before becoming a FRC (Fast Rescue Craft) pilot in the Congo. "Just like zodiacs and Norwegian HT 24s, FRCs were launched from stand-by safety vessels that were permanently in place near the offshore installations," he explains.

After a brief stint at the navy base in the Congo as a lieutenant, in 1998 Michel Thoreux first served as a captain: "It was on board the Angelica, a 34-meter Crew boat dedicated to transporting personnel and offshore equipment." He followed that with the Agathea, a propeller-driven Crew boat: "It was a totally different navigation experience and maneuverability."

In 2010, after piloting several large Surfers, including the S322 and S327, he took command of the Surfer 3601, based in Angola. Measuring 36 meters long and with 8,000 horsepower, the Surfer 3601 is the most powerful Crew boat in the BOURBON fleet: "This unit is used to transport the personnel of our clients to oil & gas blocks 17 and 32 located a hundred nautical miles off the coast of Luanda, right in the Atlantic ocean."

" There are 5 of us on board, 3 officers and 2 seafarers, fully dedicated to the well-being and safety of our crew passengers'."



Surfers have evolved over the years towards more comfort and performance. Michel Thoreux knows a bit about them: he has been transporting crews at sea for 20 years. "These launches now offer a travel experience worthy of a plane," he says. The Surfer 3601 accommodates her 50 crew passengers in VIP mode and reduces transfer times thanks to a speed of over 40 knots. Some essential advantages when the distance to travel is long: "It takes three to four hours of crossing between Luanda and the 2 blocks we serve. It's the equivalent of a medium-haul flight," he adds.

On the Surfer 3601, everything is done to ensure the comfort of crew passengers who enjoy an impeccable quality of service, provided by the whole crew. "There are 5 of us on board, 3 officers and 2 seafarers, fully dedicated to the well-being and safety of our crew passengers."



In terms of safety, procedures are scrupulously respected, and rightly so. “Each morning before the crew passengers board, we have a Tool Box Talk, which is a meeting bringing together our whole crew to take stock of the operations planned for the day, evaluate the risks associated with them, and to make sure that the right safety measures are understood by everyone. Furthermore, safety information is provided to crew passengers at the time of departure, stressing the evacuation procedures as well as the instructions to follow during the boarding and deboarding phases. Lastly, the crew passengers are assisted during all of their movements on the vessel in order to avoid the risk of an accident," adds Michel Thoreux.

The result: "Very positive feedback from our clients. They all mention the level of comfort and safety our Surfers provide".