A Hollywood treasure known for its roles in the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise, Treasure Island and Mutiny on the Bounty has sunk off the coast of North Carolina, a victim of hurricane Sandy.
Two crew members were missing after everyone on-board abandoned the HMS Bounty last night, U.S. Coast Guard Petty Officer First Class Brandyn Hill told the Weekly:
As we spoke two Coast Guard cutters were en route to the scene off 90 miles southeast of Hatteras, North California, he said. Fourteen of 16 total on-board were successfully rescued, he added.
Those craft would be joining a C-130 plane and two Jayhawk helicopters already searching for the missing crew members in 18-foot seas, Hill said. According to a Coast Guard statement sent to the Weekly:
The 14 people were flown to Coast Guard Air Station Elizabeth City, N.C., where they were met by awaiting emergency medical services personnel at approximately 10:15 a.m. with no life threatening injuries.
The USCG said the tall ship apparently sunk but that "the mast is still visible."
A distress call from the ship was sent out about 8:30 p.m. Sunday, according to a statement from the HMS Bounty folks.
Almost precisely at 9 last night the ship's emergency position radio beacon activated, Hill said.
At 11 p.m. the Bounty's people posted on Facebook that its generators had failed and that "they are taking on more water than they would like."
At 4:30 a.m. the crew abandoned ship, according to the Bounty statement.
At 6:30 a.m. today the first Coast Guard helicopter was on-scene and rescued 14 people found in two 25-foot life rafts with canopies, Hill said. The rescued were wearing life jackets and cold-water "survival suits," he said.
It wasn't clear if the two missing crew members made it onto one of the rafts are not.
The ship is a replica of an 18th century sailing ship that was the subject of a legendary mutiny. It was built in 1962 specifically for the film Mutiny on the Bounty but was used in many others, including two of the Pirates films.
Why was it out in the Atlantic with hurricane Sandy approaching, when even people in New York City highrises were warned to abandon ship?
Hill says, "It's not clear," but adds:
We're dong everything we can to locate those people.
Calls to the HMS people were not being picked up. A message says the ship has been out as part of a "summer tour." Its Facebook page says it departed New London, Connecticut Oct. 25, bound for St. Petersburg, Florida, fully knowing Sandy was looming:
Bounty will be sailing due East out to sea before heading South to avoid the brunt of Hurricane Sandy.
One commenter on the Bounty's Facebook page had this to say:
Looking at the timeline posted on this page, I can not understand the abject stupidity of this decision. She should have remained in port...any port. It is criminal negligence.
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[Update at 4:42 p.m.]: The Coast Guard stated this afternoon that the body of 42-year-old Claudene Christian was recovered today:
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.
The outstanding crew member was identified as 63-year-old Robin Walbridge.