Last modified: 2011-11-12 by ivan sache
Keywords: abeilles (les) | societe dunkerquoise de remorquage et de sauvetage | letters: sdr (red) | letters: sdrs (red) |
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House flag of Les Abeilles - Image by Ivan Sache, 10 June 2001
The tugging and rescue company Compagnie de Remorquage et Sauvetage Les Abeilles, in short, Les Abeilles (The Bees) was founded in 1864 in Le Havre by Charles Louis Walter. The first company to operate powerful tugs able to intervene in deep sea (out of the ports), Les Abeilles stationed most of its tugs in the ports of Le Havre (27 ships in 1929, 22 in 1947, 25 in 1956 and 27 in 1965), Cherbourg (with the creation, in 1930, of Compagnie Cherbourgeoise de Remorquage et de Sauvetage, 3 ships in 1956) and Nantes (5 ships in 1956, 4 in 1965). The company was also active, sometimes via subsidiaries, in several other ports, such as Boulogne and Saint-Malo.
In 1967-1968, Les Abeilles, together with other tugging and rescue companies, was taken over by Société Provençale de Remorquage, renamed Société Provençale de Gestion Maritime (Progemar); the corporate name of Les Abeilles was changed in 1975 to Société de Sauvetage et de Remorquage Les Abeilles. In 1976, Progemar merged several companies to form Les Abeilles International.
Les Abeilles International was purchased in 1996 by Groupe Bourbon,
renamed Bourbon in 2005. The company then operated some 75 port and
deep-sea tugboats. In 2003, Bourbon transfered its tugboats operating
in the ports of Calais, Boulogne, Cherbourg, Bayonne, Sète and Nouméa
(New Caledonia) to Compagnie Maritime Chambon, created in 2002
by Guy Chambon - a descendant of the founder of the original Chambon group, taken over by Bourbon in 1991.
On 21 December 2007, Bourbon transfered the remaining of its port fleet (70 tugs and 1,000 employees) to the Spanish group Grupo Boluda Corporación Marítima, which formed in 2008 the Boluda France company.
Bourbon kept only the Les Abeilles International division, member of the ISU (International Salvage Union) and operating five deep-sea tugboats commissioned in 1976 by the French Navy for the shores' watching and protection. Dropped for the Bourbon name, the Les Abeilles name was reestablished on 30 June 2008. The current fleet is made of the Abeille Bourbon (2005, Brest), the Abeille Liberté (2005, Cherbourg), the Abeille Flandre (1977, Brest; 2005, Toulon), the Abeille Languedoc (1977, Cherbourg; 1977, La Rochelle - La Pallice) and the Carangue (auxiliary vessel, replacing the Mérou; 1980, Toulon).
Ivan Sache, 13 October 2010
The house flag of Les Abeilles is white with a red border.
Ivan Sache, 10 June 2001
Variant of the flag
Variant of the house flag of Les Abeilles - Image by Ivan Sache, 13 October 2010
Lloyd's book of house flags and funnels of the principal steamship lines of the world and the house flags of various lines of sailing vessels, published at Lloyd's Royal Exchange. London. E.C. (1912) [LLo12], also available online thanks to the Mystic Seaport Foundation, shows a variant of the flag, with a very large red border. The variant is probably erroneous, since Loyd's 1912 shows the house flag of the related Société Dunkerquoise de Remorquage et de Sauvetage with a thin red border.
Ivan Sache, 13 October 2010
House flag of Société Cherbourgeoise de Remorquage et de Sauvetage - Image by Ivan Sache, 13 October 2010
Jean Randier (Histoire de la marine marchande française) shows the house flag of Société Cherbourgeoise de Remorquage et de Sauvetage, the Cherbourg branch of Les Abeilles, as red with a white border (that is, Les Abeilles house flag countercolored).
Dominique Cureau, 13 October 2010
House flag of Société Dunkerquoise de Remorquage et de Sauvetage, two variants - Images by Ivan Sache, 13 October 2010
Société Dunkerquoise de Remorquage et de Sauvetage was in charge of tugging (remorquage) and salvage (sauvetage) in Dunkirk.
In 1861, the Chamber of Commerce of Dunkirk was granted the monopoly on tugging in the port and operated the Commerce. Gaspar Malo, who had been operating the Orphéon since 1859, abandoned tugging. After the lift of the monopoly, several companies were set up, including Société Dunkerquoise de Remorquage Barra & Cie, created in 1897; considered as the founder of professional tugging in Dunkirk, the company was renamed Société Dunkerquoise de Remorquage et de Sauvetage, then Société de Remorquage et de Sauvetage du Nord (1956), Société de Remorquage du Nord (1974, overtaken by Progemar) and eventually Abeilles Dunkerque (1990, overtaken by G7 - Les Abeilles).
Source: French Tugs website
The house flag of Société Dunkerquoise de Remorquage et de Sauvetage is shown in Lloyd's book of house flags and funnels of the principal steamship lines of the world and the house flags of various lines of sailing vessels, published at Lloyd's Royal Exchange. London. E.C. (1912) [LLo12], also available online thanks to the Mystic Seaport Foundation,
#1615, p. 113, as white with a red border and
the red letters "SDR" in the middle.
Album des Pavillons (1923) [f9r23] shows the same flag for Société de Halage du Nord.
In Saga maritimes - Cent ans d'armateurs de France (Marine Éditions), Gérard Cornillet and Claude Villers show the same flag, but with the letters "SDRS".
Ivan Sache & Dominique Cureau, 13 October 2010