Bound for Galveston, Texas, the tall replica ship HMS Bounty became caught in the torrents of Hurricane Sandy and sank off the coast of North Carolina on Monday, Oct.29, 2012. The ship had left Connecticut last week en route to St. Petersburg, Florida, with a final destination of Galveston, Texas.
The Coast Guard in Portsmouth, Va. received a call late Sunday evening saying the ship was “powerless and taking on water.” After getting the distress call, the U.S. Coast Guard fought 18-foot waves and 40 mph winds to rescue crew members that were forced to abandon ship about 90 miles off the coast of Cape Hatteras on North Carolina’s Outer Banks. The crew members were floating in 25-foot rubber life rafts. A few were adrift in survival suits designed to keep them afloat and protected for up to 15 hours.
The Coast Guard rescued 14 crew members by helicopter but the ship’s captain, Robin Walbridge, 63, is still missing. Crews are still searching for Walbridge, who was wearing one of the survival suits. Walbridge has worked with the ship since 1995.
By late Monday, they had found one body and were still searching for another crew member late Monday. The body of Claudene Christian, 42, was found Monday evening.
The ship had tracked a new course to try to avoid the brunt of Hurricane’s Sandy’s path. The Bounty had left Connecticut on Thursday, at which time the storm was still over Cuba and its effect on the East Coast was still uncertain. Sandy was expected to be hundreds of miles off the Carolina Coast, with the Outer Banks not expected to be an area of uncertainty.
The HMS Bounty replica was 180-feet with three masts. It was originally built for the 1962 movie “Mutiny on the Bounty.” It was expected to arrive in Galveston, Texas in November, where it would dock until April. The ship’s owner had wanted to find a place for the ship to dock over the winter months so that the captain and crew could go on vacation.
The Bounty is a replica of one of the world’s most famous ships and the subject of a mutinous high-seas adventure. A British crew sailed to Tahiti and then mutinied while on the way to England in 1789. William Bligh, the ship’s captain, was cast overboard, along with some of his faithful crew members, and set adrift in a 23-foot boat in the South Pacific Ocean.
Historic accounts then say that the mutineers sailed back to Tahiti and Pitcairn Island where they burned the ship beyond all recognition. The replica appeared in “Mutiny on the Bounty,” documentaries, film productions and Disney’s “Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest.” The ship sailed around the world to promote “Mutiny on the Bounty” and brought to New York for the 1964 World’s Fair.
Thoughts and prayers go out to the families and friends of the captain and crew members of the HMS Bounty.
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