The search is continuing for the missing crew members from the Bourbon Rhode anchor handling tug supply vessel which sank in the mid-Atlantic amid Hurricane Lorenzo last month.

Vessel owner Bourbon Offshore revealed over the weekend that “an intense and extensive” search was carried out last week following reports of a possible distress flare on the night of 6 – 7 October.

The CROSS French West Indies-Guyana (Regional Operational Centre for Surveillance and Rescue) dispatched four ships to search the area, with the support of an overflight by the US Coast Guard.

A satellite photo obtained from the European Maritime Safety Agency which showed what appeared to potentially be a life raft also raised hopes.

However, Bourbon said Saturday the search operations had failed to find any trace of life or life rafts “despite measures of exceptional magnitude”.

The Bourbon Rhode started to take on water on 26 September while en route to Guyana and sank before another vessel could arrive to rescue the 14-strong crew.

Three crew members were found alive in the early stages of the rescue operation but another four were confirmed dead after their bodies were recovered from the water.

Seven crew remain missing and Bourbon said over the weekend that search operations would continue, adding there was no specific date CROSS intended to stop the search.

However, it added that CROSS was entering a new phase of active monitoring in which it will mobilise all vessels transiting in the area to implement an adapted monitoring.

“Our priority is to provide families and relatives of the Bourbon Rhode crew with all possible support under these tragic circumstances,” Bourbon chief executive Gael Bodenes said.

“On behalf of all the employees and in particular all those who work tirelessly within the Bourbon crisis cells, I want to reiterate how much our thoughts are with the families of the missing seafarers.”