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Film star Bounty sinks in Hurricane Sandy; one crew member dead, captain missing

Published time: October 30, 2012 09:15
Edited time: October 31, 2012 14:06
The HMS Bounty, a 180-foot sailboat, is shown submerged in the Atlantic Ocean during Hurricane Sandy approximately 90 miles southeast of Hatteras, North Carolina in this U.S. Coast Guard handout picture taken October 29, 2012.  (Reuters/Petty Officer 2nd Class Tim Kuklewski)

The HMS Bounty, a 180-foot sailboat, is shown submerged in the Atlantic Ocean during Hurricane Sandy approximately 90 miles southeast of Hatteras, North Carolina in this U.S. Coast Guard handout picture taken October 29, 2012. (Reuters/Petty Officer 2nd Class Tim Kuklewski)

The star of the ‘Pirates of the Caribbean’ movie – the ship Bounty – has sunk off the North Carolina coast in Hurricane Sandy. One crew member is dead and the captain is missing after the ship failed to survive the storm.

­As the ship’s engines failed, the crew put on survival suits before abandoning the vessel as it went down in the immense waves, AP reported.

A crewman of the replica tall ship HMS Bounty is lifted from the water by a member of the U.S. Coast Guard in the Atlantic Ocean approximately 90 miles (144 kms) southeast of Hatteras, North Carolina, October 29, 2012. (Reuters/U.S.Coast Guard)
A crewman of the replica tall ship HMS Bounty is lifted from the water by a member of the U.S. Coast Guard in the Atlantic Ocean approximately 90 miles (144 kms) southeast of Hatteras, North Carolina, October 29, 2012. (Reuters/U.S.Coast Guard)

­The Bounty set sail last week, but after two days in rough seas captain Robin Walbridge posted a message on the vessel's Facebook site, saying "I think we are going to be into this for several days," noting that the crew was "just going to keep trying to go fast."

By Monday morning, however, it became clear that the vessel failed to survive the storm. Most of the sailors were plucked from life rafts shortly after the ship went down. 42 year-old Claudene Christian was found hours later, unresponsive and floating in the water. She was pronounced dead after being taken to hospital. The rest of the crew was reported in good condition.

A crewman from the replica tall ship HMS Bounty is aided in the water by a member of the U.S. Coast Guard next to a life raft in the Atlantic Ocean approximately 90 miles (144 kms) southeast of Hatteras, North Carolina, October 29, 2012. (Reuters/U.S.Coast Guard)
A crewman from the replica tall ship HMS Bounty is aided in the water by a member of the U.S. Coast Guard next to a life raft in the Atlantic Ocean approximately 90 miles (144 kms) southeast of Hatteras, North Carolina, October 29, 2012. (Reuters/U.S.Coast Guard)

­According to AP, by the time the first rescue helicopter arrived at the scene, all that was visible of the replica 18th-century sailing vessel was a strobe light atop the ship's submerged masts. The Atlantic Ocean had claimed the rest.

The final hours of the Bounty were as frightening as the movies she once appeared in.

"When a crew decides it's safer in an inflatable than it is on deck, then you know she's in peril," Bill Foster, Mayor of St. Petersburg, Fla., a frequent winter port for the ship was quoted as saying.

The crew of the replica tall ship HMS Bounty is aided by the U.S. Coast Guard after being rescued from the Atlantic Ocean, at the Coast Guard Air Station Elizabeth City, North Carolina, October 29, 2012. (Reuters/U.S.Coast Guard)
The crew of the replica tall ship HMS Bounty is aided by the U.S. Coast Guard after being rescued from the Atlantic Ocean, at the Coast Guard Air Station Elizabeth City, North Carolina, October 29, 2012. (Reuters/U.S.Coast Guard)

­The vessel was originally built for the 1962 Hollywood adventure starring Marlon Brando, ‘Mutiny on the Bounty’ and has featured in several films over the years, including one of the ‘Pirates of the Caribbean’ movies.

The vessel left Connecticut on Thursday with a crew of 11 men and five women, ranging in age from 20 to 66. Everyone aboard knew the journey could be treacherous.

"This will be a tough voyage for Bounty," warned a posting on the ship's Facebook page showing a map of its coordinates and satellite images of the storm.

As Sandy's impact started to gain momentum, another post appeared: "Rest assured that the Bounty is safe and in very capable hands.

Bounty's current voyage is a calculated decision … NOT AT ALL … irresponsible or with a lack of foresight as some have suggested. The fact of the matter is … A SHIP IS SAFER AT SEA THAN IN PORT!"

A file photo taken on July 30, 2003 shows the "HMS Bounty" sailing past the Chicago skyline as the city of Chicago hosts the largest "Tall Ship" festival ever in the Great Lakes. (AFP Photo/Jeff Haynes)
A file photo taken on July 30, 2003 shows the "HMS Bounty" sailing past the Chicago skyline as the city of Chicago hosts the largest "Tall Ship" festival ever in the Great Lakes. (AFP Photo/Jeff Haynes)

­Later on the Facebook posts grew more alarming, one of them said “one of Bounty's generators has failed….they are taking on more water than they would like.”

The latest update posted on the Facebook page said 14 crew members have been safely returned to land. “There were 16 brave crew members aboard the Bounty. With sadness in our hearts we are reporting that we have lost one crew member and still missing another. The USCG is continuing their effort to search for our last crew member.”

The Bounty's captain was from St. Petersburg. Prior to the Bounty, he served as first mate on the H.M.S. Rose, the Bounty's sister ship.