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HMS Bounty sinks - October 29, 2012
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The Publisher

Oct 30, 2012, 3:56 PM

Post #1 of 15 (30816 views)
HMS Bounty sinks - October 29, 2012 Log-In to Post/Reply

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

HMS Bounty website:

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,

The Publisher

Oct 30, 2012, 3:57 PM

Post #2 of 15 (30811 views)
Re: [The Publisher] HMS Bounty sinks - October 29, 2012 [In reply to] Log-In to Post/Reply

From John Rumsey:
I skippered the HMS Bounty for Turner Broadcasting for four years ('86-'90), through the Great Lakes and the coasts of the U.S. and Central America. When I heard the news regarding the sinking and needed rescue of the Bounty on Monday, I couldn't believe anyone would dare to take that ship or any vessel into that storm.

From Brainard Cooper:
Thanks to Don Street for voicing the thoughts of many of us regarding the loss of the HMS Bounty.

From Warren Brown, War Baby:
I find it hard to believe that with all the latest weather technology available today - which we did not have during the three hurricanes I survived - how anyone could take a vessel like the HMS Bounty into the path of a hurricane coming directly towards them.

When a hurricane is slow moving, the length of time it is blowing generates huge seas hundreds and hundreds of mile extending well beyond the major strength of the hurricane itself
A few years ago a hurricane sat off Bermuda for about six days and created the largest seas I have ever seen hit the Island, yet when it went by we had little rain and not more than 40 knots of wind

Looking at the tracking of this storm, it was obvious the Bounty was going to run into very severe sea conditions

The Publisher

Oct 30, 2012, 3:58 PM

Post #3 of 15 (30810 views)
Re: [The Publisher] HMS Bounty sinks - October 29, 2012 [In reply to] Log-In to Post/Reply

30 October 2012

Tall Ships America Statement regarding loss of HMS BOUNTY:

The tall ship HMS BOUNTY was lost yesterday in Hurricane Sandy off Cape Hatteras, North Carolina. Of the 16 persons reportedly aboard at the time, we understand that one individual has perished, and that 14 others were rescued, thanks to the exemplary courage and skill of Coast Guard search and rescue personnel. It appears that the vessel’s master, Robin Walbridge, is missing, and the search continues.

A member of Tall Ships America, HMS BOUNTY was a popular participant in public maritime festivals around North America. Our membership is united in sending our thoughts, prayers and best wishes to the crew and their families, to the family of the crewmember who was lost, and to the brave Coast Guard team who sustain our hopes for Captain Walbridge’s speedy rescue.

There is currently much speculation about the loss of the vessel. We believe that further speculation is not helpful at this time, especially in view of the respect that is due to the individuals whose lives are directly affected by these tragic events. Tall Ships America does not have any factual information to add but notes that there will surely be an official inquiry that will assemble much more complete information than is available to anyone now. We are confident that our membership, if called upon, will cooperate with that inquiry in the full spirit of professionalism upon which the sail training movement depends.

For now, we appeal to the public to lend their thoughts and support to the crew and shore team of HMS BOUNTY and their families, to join us in thanking the Coast Guard rescue team for their heroism on behalf of our colleagues, and to sustain hopes for Captain Walbridge’s safe return.

Tall Ships America is a non-profit organization dedicated to enriching youth education through character building and leadership programs aboard tall ships. It is the hub for tall ship activity, expertise, and information in North America, and is commended by Congress as the Sail Training organization representing the United States.

For more information contact:
Bert Rogers, Executive Director
Tall Ships America
401-846-1775 or

The mission of Tall Ships America is to
encourage character building through sail training,
promote sail training to the North American public and
support education under sail.

The Publisher

Oct 31, 2012, 12:35 PM

Post #4 of 15 (30778 views)
Re: [The Publisher] HMS Bounty sinks - October 29, 2012 [In reply to] Log-In to Post/Reply

From John Longley:
After my involvement with the America's Cup, my next project was building a replica of the 106-foot HMB Endeavour, Captain James Cook's famous ship of discovery. Like HMS Bounty, she was a replica of a Whitby Cat - small 18th century colliers built with remarkable strength so they could be grounded and loaded at low tide in remote locations.

In the southern summer of 1996, Endeavour was touring New Zealand. While on exhibition in the port of Gisborne on the east cape of the North Island, an out-of-season Cyclone (southern hemisphere Hurricane) formed to the north, which was predicted to track down the east coast of New Zealand.

The Captain and I were very concerned for the ship as Gisborne had a bad reputation for surge, with ships routinely berthed with wire hawsers to hold them to the wharf.

Wooden ships like Endeavour were not designed to go alongside a wharf and in rough conditions can sustain significant damage. During the eighteenth century they would usually have been loaded and unloaded from a mooring or anchor or, as mentioned above, directly off a beach.

We knew if we stayed in Gisborne the ship would likely sustain significant damage so we took the decision to go to sea. Fortunately there were good favorable winds and the ship was able to get about 100 nautical miles to sea before the cyclone hit, which by then had been downgraded to a sub-tropical storm.

The ship experienced large seas and winds up to about 40 knots, so she was hove-to under staysails, the helm lashed while the crew went below and sat it out for the next 24 hours or so. During this time the ship rolled heavily and a couple of the crew sustained minor injuries from being thrown about below.

After the storm moderated, Endeavour sailed down to Napier where she had difficulty berthing as there was a lot of surge there as well. The Captain finally managed to do so using anchors and warps to hold her off the wharf.

I make no judgment on the decision made by the Bounty's Master to undertake the cause of action that he took but believe it is simplistic to simply state that he was foolish to go to sea.

Colliers, like Endeavour and Bounty, are incredible vessels and have proven time and time again that, as long as they have plenty of sea room, they can sit out most conditions. In fact it was Captain James Cook who described Endeavour with the statement: "No sea can hurt her".


Oct 31, 2012, 2:40 PM

Post #5 of 15 (30773 views)
Re: [The Publisher] HMS Bounty sinks - October 29, 2012 [In reply to] Log-In to Post/Reply

I am astonished at the willingness to make harsh judgments about an incident like this when lives have been lost and the facts are not even close to being gathered. I saw some of the same after the Low Speed Chase incident recently here in San Francisco. I have little reason to doubt that those involved made a difficult decision based on the best intentions. The US Navy makes similar calls to leave otherwise safe moorings when a hurricane threatens. There but for fortune go you and I. Condolences to the bereaved.
Tony Johnson


Nov 1, 2012, 2:03 AM

Post #6 of 15 (30440 views)
Re: [The Publisher] HMS Bounty sinks - October 29, 2012 [In reply to] Log-In to Post/Reply

Two things brought the terrible tragedy of this event home to me.
First, the picture of Bounty awash and sinking, taken from the air. It was truly horrifying, to see this sturdy little ship overcome by the massive seas, and submerged, just before she disappeared to the bottom of the ocean.
It is a scene that has been played out many times throughout our early maritime history, when of course there were no cameras, and more often than not, no survivors.
The second, was the amazing footage taken from one of the rescue helicopters, as the swimmer and the winch man coordinated getting survivors out of one of the life rafts and up to the aircraft. Incredible skill and bravery shown by all those involved.
We have all witnessed a terrible tragedy, but 14 of the 16 crew were saved,
and this is a modern miracle.

The Publisher

Nov 1, 2012, 6:30 AM

Post #7 of 15 (30312 views)
Re: [willbaillieu] HMS Bounty sinks - October 29, 2012 [In reply to] Log-In to Post/Reply

From David Redfern:
The sinking of the HMS Bounty must be thoroughly investigated so that there are no unintended consequences that have future affect. A review of other disasters may prove beneficial.

-- The 'Marques', a British sail training ship built in 1917, that was knocked down onto her starboard side in a squall in 1984 in the Caribbean. The weather was hot and the hatches were open and she went down very quickly with 19 of the 28 crew dead. Over the years, extra sail area had been added over the original design and may have been a factor in the capsize.

-- The 'Maria Asumpta', built in 1858 with the same present-day owner, and a disaster off Padstow in Cornwall in 1985 where three crew died. Survivors walked ashore on the Cornish rocks. The ship hit a headland when sailing too close inland after ignoring the Harbour Master's advice and was matchwood inside five minutes. Same owner as the 'Marques', Mark Litchfield, was charged with the manslaughter of the three crew members who died, due to his gross negligence in navigating and went to jail for eighteen months.

As an Englishman, I am not familiar with the intricacies of American law, but surely there is a case for negligence in setting out in a ship of this type with a known hazard - Hurricane Sandy - so close. Did he file a report of the journey in advance to the Coast Guard? Was there advice on whether to proceed or not?

Following the 'Marques', here in the UK the official report had major implications for future design, including super-yachts, where all hatches had to have sizable coamings surrounding them as on commercial vessels. It took a long time to persuade the government that British super-yacht building might disappear if this rule was rigidly applied and common sense eventually prevailed.

These traditional ships are not dangerous. I have many miles under my belt on a replica ship from 1497. During the design stage, care was taken not to over-engineer her with super strong modern materials showing respect for the 1497 design and the 'Matthew' has been through two hurricane strength situations and one very close and has come out fine.

It is to be hoped that blame does not go onto the type of ship and involve severe restrictions. In the two above cases it was human error, not the ship. After all, the 'Maria Asumpta' had sailed safely for 127 years. I hope a full enquiry is held into the Bounty tragedy. It would be fair if only to the relatives of the people who have lost their lives.


Nov 1, 2012, 7:03 AM

Post #8 of 15 (30284 views)
Re: [The Publisher] HMS Bounty sinks - October 29, 2012 [In reply to] Log-In to Post/Reply

Well said @John Longley. Your experience in vessels similar to Bounty and their greater susceptibility to damage in port from surge than from wind and waves in a storm are important. We may be too quick to judge with standards for other vessels, and the Bounty's foundering may be traced to collision with a semi-submerged container or another issue outside the judgement of the captain and crew.

The Publisher

Nov 4, 2012, 9:05 AM

Post #9 of 15 (29840 views)
Re: [The Publisher] HMS Bounty sinks - October 29, 2012 [In reply to] Log-In to Post/Reply

Picton Castle captain questions Bounty being at sea during storm
October 29, 2012 - 10:08am By BEVERLEY WARE South Shore Bureau

Dan Moreland, captain of the Picton Castle, wonders why The Bounty was at sea during a hurricane. (BEVERLY WARE / South Shore Bureau)

BRIDGEWATER — The captain of the Picton Castle says he can’t understand why the Bounty was at sea Monday when a massive hurricane was forecast to hit.

Indeed, Dan Moreland postponed leaving Lunenburg more than a week ago precisely because of hurricane Sandy.

“It was an easy decision to make,” he said. “It’s black and white, there are no nuances with this. It’s a huge system and that made the decision very simple.”

Moreland said he has known Robin Walbridge, the longtime captain of the Bounty, for years and he is an experienced seaman, but Moreland said he was shocked that Walbridge decided to sail, given the forecast.

“Yes, I have to say yes, I can’t say anything else. When I first heard the Bounty was out there, I thought, ‘You’ve got to be kidding.’ ”
Moreland said there was very good information on the storm well in advance.

“I don’t understand this one at all,” he said. “This is a huge system, there is no way of avoiding this, there’s no dodging and weaving around it.”

Moreland has captained the Picton Castle on five circumnavigations, and the tall ship has sailed more than 400,000 kilometres under his command without incident.

Moreland had planned to set sail in the Picton Castle over a week ago but delayed the voyage because of the impending hurricane.
“I had no interest in going because of this storm,” clearly a large system that would have extensive impact, he said.

He postponed the departure until last Wednesday, and then, given the latest weather information, decided to stay put until the storm passed.
Moreland said he is extremely sorry that two of the Bounty’s crew members are missing. And those who made it into lifeboats would have faced horrendous conditions, he said. They would have been exposed to the elements and “whopped around and feeling every wave.”

Rescuing them by air was a “very desperate measure,” Moreland said, “a last possible option.”

The Bounty, launched in Lunenburg in 1960, is the second tall ship connected to the South Shore town to sink in less than three years. In February 2010, the Lunenburg-based Concordia went down in a storm off the coast of Brazil. All 64 students and staff were rescued after spending 40 hours in life-rafts.
Moreland expects the Bounty’s sinking to come under intense scrutiny.

“When you lose a ship, there are some pretty obvious questions out of this. It’s pretty horrible, and the big question is, the decision to go.”

The Publisher

Nov 5, 2012, 8:00 AM

Post #10 of 15 (29752 views)
Re: [The Publisher] HMS Bounty sinks - October 29, 2012 [In reply to] Log-In to Post/Reply

From Steve Pyatt:
One thing strikes me about the Bounty incident was just how good Captains Blythe and Cook were to sail these boats around the World with no power at all, or weather forecasts to even give them the chance of making a decision to avoid storms.

From Dick Enersen:
With all respect to my old friend Chink (aka John Longley), strapping Bounty to a dock and risking "significant damage" would have been preferable to the outcome we witnessed.

The Publisher

Nov 5, 2012, 3:56 PM

Post #11 of 15 (29737 views)
Re: [The Publisher] HMS Bounty sinks - October 29, 2012 [In reply to] Log-In to Post/Reply

In Reply To
From Dick Enersen:
With all respect to my old friend Chink (aka John Longley), strapping Bounty to a dock and risking "significant damage" would have been preferable to the outcome we witnessed.

From John Longley:
Dick Enersen states the obvious when he says it would have been better for the Bounty to have sustained damage at a wharf than to have gone to sea and suffer subsequent loss of life.

However, he misses the point of my piece on Endeavour. I felt it was simply not fair to call the Master a fool in a prestigious publication such as Scuttlebutt, as some did, before the full facts were known.

Were the skippers of the yachts who lost lives in the 1979 Fastnet or the 1998 Sydney to Hobart fools because they went to sea when they had warnings the conditions were going to be tough. No, they made a calculated risk knowing the characteristics of their yacht and the capability of their crew.

Bounty was lost in 40 knots of wind and high seas, conditions that Dick and many readers of Scuttlebutt would have been in many times.

Sandy had already been downgraded to category 1 or lower. It was a super storm based on its size (1500 kms across) not because of its wind strength.

Bounty was not dismasted or capsized. She sunk because of some hull failure (failed plank fastenings or caulking) that the captain could not have known about or he would not have gone to sea in 10 knots let alone 40.

The captain had been Master of that ship for 20 years. All I am saying is cut him some slack until the facts are known, especially as tragically he is not alive to be able to defend his actions.

The Publisher

Nov 6, 2012, 7:47 AM

Post #12 of 15 (29693 views)
Re: [The Publisher] HMS Bounty sinks - October 29, 2012 [In reply to] Log-In to Post/Reply

From Rodger Martin:
I made my longest voyage in a square rigger from Fall River to New Bedford, Mass several years ago in the Bounty. They call me Shellback.

On that little trip I was told that she'd been made 20% longer than the original when built for the '62 film Mutiny on the Bounty. This was done for pragmatic reasons: she was to carry a complement of sailing crew, the entire film company of actors, film crew and the film developers, editors and projectionist so they could see the daily rushes. And they wanted to be able to stand up.

The entire company was fully independent while shooting in the South Pacific so that they could ensure the footage they needed was in the can before returning to 'civilization' to check the results.

The Publisher

Nov 7, 2012, 8:09 AM

Post #13 of 15 (29567 views)
Re: [The Publisher] HMS Bounty sinks - October 29, 2012 [In reply to] Log-In to Post/Reply

From Craig Yandow:
In the 1700 and 1800s, Navy ships sailed with a crewman for every one or two tons of deadweight. The ships carried extra masts, line, sailcloth, etc. in unbelievable quantities. They were floating repair systems.

Moreover the crews were used to going aloft and bringing the upper masts, yards, and sails to the deck when the weather got ugly. They didn't have power but they had systems that worked anyway. And they had enough people to pump a couple feet of water per hour around the clock.

Ships like Bounty don't sail well with the wind forward of the beam. Northern hemisphere wisdom is to assume starboard tack and let the storm spit you out. But, if they lost power and had to "run for it" starting west of Hurricane Sandy's track, they would have been trapped between a lee shore and the storm.

On Bounty, fourteen sailors were not nearly enough crew and they would not have had ship-sized manual pumps. I can totally agree with the decision to call for help.


Nov 15, 2012, 9:48 AM

Post #14 of 15 (29327 views)
Re: [The Publisher] HMS Bounty sinks - October 29, 2012 [In reply to] Log-In to Post/Reply

 The 40kt conditions were perhaps at the time of the rescue...The conditions they encountered prior to recue are below from the HMS Engineer:

CBS19 Exclusive: Nelson County Man Recounts Rescue from HMS Bounty Ship

"Barksdale was in for more adventure than he bargained for. As 'Superstorm' Sandy brewed in the Atlantic Ocean, the ship's captain, Robin Walbridge, called the crew to the deck for a meeting.
"At that point in time, I didn't know a hurricane was coming," said Barksdale. Captain Walbridge told the crew he wouldn't blame them if they wanted to get off the ship and he wouldn't hold it against them.
"Naturally, I thought about it," Barksdale said. "But the captain had a good plan to circumvent the storm and at that point, we didn't realize the magnitude of the storm."
Citing the old saying a ship is safer at sea than at port, none of the other 15 crew members opted out either. The Bounty set sail on Thursday. Three days later, the ship sailed directly into Hurricane Sandy's path.
"I knew we were in trouble early afternoon on Sunday," Barksdale recalls. "It appeared we were taking in more water than we were pumping out."
With winds reaching 80 miles per hour and waves three stories high, Barksdale recalls having to hold on at all times on board, or risk being tossed across the ship. A few crew member suffered broken arms and ribs from not holding on tight enough. __________________


Sep 11, 2019, 1:46 AM

Post #15 of 15 (3253 views)
Re: [The Publisher] HMS Bounty sinks - October 29, 2012 [In reply to] Log-In to Post/Reply

That's good blog. It's nice content.

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