14 crew members rescued from abandoned HMS Bounty; 2 missing

10:27 AM, Oct 29, 2012   |    comments
The 'HMS Bounty' sails past the Chicago skyline 30 July, 2003 as the city of Chicago hosts the largest 'Tall Ship' festival ever in the Great Lakes. (JEFF HAYNES/AFP/Getty Images)
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(USA Today) -- U.S. Coast Guard helicopters have rescued 14 of 16 crew members who abandoned their three-masted ship in the path of Hurricane Sandy, but that two people were missing.

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Initial reports said the HMS Bounty was carrying a crew of 17, but the Coast Guard reported it appeared that there were only 16 aboard when the ship ran into trouble.

The crew had donned life jackets and survival suits and abandoned the HMS Bounty after sending out a distress signal.

The Coast Guard said it had rescued 14 people and that two were still missing. The ship's Facebook page said the 14 had been rescued by 8 a.m. ET.

The Coast Guard sent a C-130 and two rescue helicopters, HH60s, to rescue the crew,WITN-TV reported. The Washington , N.C., TV station said one helicopter began bringing back the first batch of survivors around 7 a.m. ET

The 180-foot ship was without propulsion and had taken on water, the Coast Guard said, according to the Associated Press.

The ship was trapped in 40 mph winds and 18-foot seas about 90 miles southeast of Hatteras, N.C., and 160 miles west of the eye of the hurricane, according to a Coast Guard statement.

The CBC reported that the ship, which is used as a sea school, has sunk.

The Coast Guard first received a call Sunday evening from the ship's owner who said she had lost communication with the crew.

The Coast Guard's 5th District command center in Portsmouth, Va., later picked up a signal from the ship's emergency radio beacon that confirmed it was in distress and gave its position.

The CBC quoted Claudia McCann, wife of the ship's captain, Robin Walbridge, as saying he was trying to get around Hurricane Sandy en route to Florida.

"He was just trying to avoid it, skirt it. Skirt through it, skirt around it," McCann told the CBC. "I'm sure he's devastated. Absolutely devastated. But the crew comes first and you have to save the crew."

The ship is a replica of one made famous in the film Mutiny on the Bounty and was featured in one of the Pirates of the Caribbean movies, WITN-TV reported.

(USA Today)

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