By Daniel Trotta and David Adams
Oct 29 The U.S. Coast Guard rescued 14 of the 16
crew members who abandoned the replica tall ship HMS Bounty off
North Carolina in rough seas caused by Hurricane Sandy, using
helicopters on Monday to pluck them from life rafts.
A Coast Guard MH-60 Jayhawk rescue helicopter later
recovered crew member Claudene Christian, 42, who was described
as unresponsive, while continuing to search for the 63-year-old
captain of the ship, which sank in 18-foot (5.5 meters) seas.
Christian taken to Albemarle Hospital in Elizabeth City,
North Carolina, where a hospital spokesman said she was in
The crew of the Bounty took to life rafts about 90 miles
(145 km) southeast of Cape Hatteras, North Carolina when the
vessel began to take on water about 160 miles (260 km) from the
storm's eye, the Coast Guard said.
The three-mast, 180-foot (55-meter) ship, built for the 1962
movie "Mutiny on the Bounty," sank after water pumps apparently
As the 16 crew members were abandoning the Bounty wearing
cold-water survival suits and life jackets, the final three on
board were washed overboard, said Coast Guard spokesman Chief
Nyx Cangemi, relaying eyewitness reports from the search and
rescue team. One of them was pulled onto a life raft but the
other two remained at sea, he said.
The 14 were rescued from two lifeboats with canopies, the
Coast Guard said.
A C-130 Hercules airplane and a third rescue helicopter
continued the search for the two missing crew members, and two
Coast Guard cutters were on the way to assist them, Cangemi
Captain Robin Walbridge worked on the Bounty for 17 years,
said his wife, Claudia McCann, contacted by telephone at the
couple's home in St. Petersburg, Florida.
"That was his passion," McCann said. "He's the best captain
in the industry. ... There's not too many captains that can sail
that kind of ship."
She said she was confident that he, as captain, was the last
to leave the ship, wearing survival gear.
"That's the image I have in my head. I'm sure he made sure
his crew were all tucked in their life boats before he got off
the ship," McCann said.
The ship was on its way from New London, Connecticut, to St.
Petersburg, Florida, said Tracie Simonin, director of the HMS
Bounty Organization LLC. She said she was unsure how the captain
attempted to navigate the storm.
"My understanding is that they were looking to sail around
the hurricane," said Jane Pena, 31, who piloted the first rescue
helicopter to reach the scene.
"They originally thought they'd be OK," Pena said.
"We thought about flying deep water pumps out to them, but they
were taking on so much water that we wouldn't be able to get
enough pumps to them."
The vessel was taking on water and also without propulsion,
stuck in 40 mile-per-hour (65 kph) winds and heavy seas, the
Coast Guard said.
"By the time we got there, the ship was submerged but it was
upright and you could see the three masts sticking out of the
water," said Pena.
The original Bounty, a British transport vessel, gained
infamy for a mutiny in Tahiti in 1789.
The 1962 movie starred Marlon Brando as lead mutineer
Fletcher Christian. The replica Bounty has appeared in numerous
documentaries and feature films including "Pirates of the
Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest" with Johnny Depp, according to the