HMS Bounty sinks in Hurricane Sandy - two missing

Hurricane Sandy strike on the USA coastline
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As east coast America battens down and floods and high surf swamp the coastline, a tall ship has already fallen victim to Hurricane Sandy. Replica tall ship HMS Bounty was caught in the rough seas off the North Carolina Coast and began taking on water, forcing a rescue operation.

The ship, which is reported to have since sunk, was built for the 1962 film 'Mutiny on the Bounty,' which starred Marlon Brando, and has been featured in other movies.


The Coast Guard rescued 14 crew members by helicopter, but two people are still missing as this is written. It is believed they include the ship's captain. The two were adrift wearing survival suits designed to help keep them afloat and protected from cold waters for up to 15 hours, but so far the Coast Guard hasn't seen any sign of them.

Update: The Coast Guard recovered the body of a woman and continues to search for a man missing in the Atlantic Ocean approximately 90 miles southeast of Hatteras, N.C., Monday. Recovered was:
Claudene Christian, 42
Missing is:
Robin Walbridge, 63, believed to be the skipper

A crew aboard an MH-60 Jayhawk helicopter from Coast Guard Air Station Elizabeth City, N.C., located Christian who was unresponsive, hoisted her into the helicopter and took her to Albemarle Hospital in Elizabeth City.


Coast Guard rescue swimmer Randy Haba says he helped pluck several crew members off a 25-foot rubber life raft. He was also lowered to a crew member floating in the water alone. He wrapped a strap around his body, and raised him to the chopper.

'It's one of the biggest seas I've ever been in. It was huge out there,' Haba said.

The HMS Bounty, a replica of the Captain Bligh's ship, and featured in Hollywood films such as 'Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest,' left Connecticut last week, en route to St. Petersburg, Fla.

The ship left Connecticut on Thursday when Sandy was over Cuba, and its path and effect on the East Coast was still somewhat certain. Sandy was then forecast to be several hundred miles off the Carolinas coast.

Days before it sank, the vessel had rerouted to avoid the brunt of Sandy.

'They were staying in constant contact with the National Hurricane Center,' said Tracie Simonin, the director of the HMS Bounty Organization. 'They were trying to make it around the storm.'

The Coast Guard received a distress call late Sunday from the three-masted sailing ship. At about 8 a.m., a helicopter had located the sinking ship, its masts partly underwater and most of the crew, who had gotten into 25-foot rubber life rafts.

Amid winds of 20 kts and 18-foot seas, rescuers were able to save most of the crew from the life boats about 90 miles southeast of Cape Hatteras, Coast Guard Petty Officer first Class Brandyn Hill said.

Those rescued were taken to Elizabeth City. Most of the crew were in their 30s, although one man appeared to be in his 70s, Coast Guard officials said.