Ronstan

Two Feared Dead

Published on October 30th, 2012

A search was under way Monday for two crew members of the stricken ship HMS Bounty, which sank off the coast of North Carolina after it was caught in Hurricane Sandy, the U.S. Coast Guard said. Earlier Monday, two Coast Guard helicopters rescued 14 people from life rafts after they were forced to abandon ship.

The 180-foot, three-mast ship issued a distress signal late Sunday after taking on water, the U.S. Coast Guard said in a release.

“It appears that two crew members didn’t make it onto the life rafts,” Coast Guard spokesman Lt. Michael Patterson told NBC News. The Coast Guard was speaking with the rescued crew members to find out more details.

Coast Guard rescue pilot Lt. Jenny Fields told NBC News that the operation was a “challenging hoist” but that she was lucky to have a “skillful crew” on her Jayhawk helicopter. Fields said the crew appeared in “good spirits” and those rescued were “happy to be able to relax.”

Coast Guard rescue swimmer Randy Haba 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 two missing crew members were 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 has not seen any sign of them.

The director of the HMS Bounty Organization, Tracie Simonin, said the ship — which was built for the 1962 Marlon Brando movie, “Mutiny on the Bounty” — had left Connecticut last week en route for St. Petersburg, Fla. “They were staying in constant contact with the National Hurricane Center,” she said. “They were trying to make it around the storm.”

After receiving the distress signal, the Coast Guard sent out an aircraft to speak with the crew, which reported that the vessel was taking on water and had no propulsion. The rescue took place in winds of 40 mph and 18-foot seas about 90 miles southeast of Cape Hatteras, N.C. — NBC News, full report: http://tinyurl.com/NBC-102912

HMS Bounty website: http://www.tallshipbounty.org/

COMMENT: “How can anyone qualified to be the captain of a boat the size of the Bounty be so foolish to have left New London, Connecticut last Thursday and head south to St. Petersburg, Florida when the path and enormity of Hurricane Sandy was already forecasted? Why did the owners not insist that Bounty stay in port, find a secure harbor, tie her down, send down all the sails and rigging possible to reduce windage?” — D.M. Street Jr, esteemed yachtsman and Scuttlebutt reader, http://www.street-iolaire.com

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