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UPDATED: Bounty Sailor Dies; Captain Still Missing

Claudene Christian was found unresponsive several hours after 14 crew members were airlifted to safety by the Coast Guard; the tall ship bound from New London sank during Hurricane Sand

 

Tuesday, Oct. 30, 8:12 a.m: Claudene Christian, the sailor rescued from the HMS Bounty has died, ABC News is reporting.

According to USA Today, the Coast Guard rescued 42-year-old Christian several hours after Jayhawk helicopters plucked 14 people from life rafts. The crew abandoned the ship after it began to take on water while sailing off Cape Hatteras during Hurricane Sandy.

NBC News reported that Christian was unresponsive when pulled from the water and taken to Albemarle Hospital in Elizabeth City, NC, where ABC News said she was pronounced dead early Tuesday morning.

According to her website, Christian founded the Cheerleader Doll Company, which produces replica collegiate cheerleader dolls, in 1988 while a college freshman. The Herald News reports that she was a descendant of Fletcher Christian, the master's mate who took control of the original Bounty in a famous 1789 mutiny.

"As a descendant of Fletcher Christian, played in four movies by Errol Flynn, Clark Gable, Marlin Brando & Mel Gibson, I'm sure my ancestor would be proud... However this time, there will be no Mutiny on this Bounty... At least not at the hands of me, a new generation of Christian Family Sailors!" Christian said on her Facebook page.

The captain, 63-year-old Robin Walbridge, remains unaccounted for. According to the Bounty's cached website, Walbridge has captained the ship since 1995 and grew up in St. Petersburg, Fla., where the ship was heading when it went down.

Both Christian and Walbridge were reportedly wearing cold water survival suits and life jackets.

7:56 p.m. update

One of two people missing from the HMS Bounty, which sank off the North Carolina coast while sailing from New London to Florida, is in critical condition after she was found "unresponsive."

According to the USA Today, the Coast Guard rescued 42-year-old Claudene Christian several hours after Jayhawk helicopters plucked 14 people from life rafts. The crew abandoned the ship after it began to take on water while sailing off Cape Hatteras during Hurricane Sandy.

NBC News reported that Christian was unresponsive when pulled from the water and taken to Albemarle Hospital in Elizabeth City, N.C. According to her website, Christian founded the Cheerleader Doll Company in 1988 while a college freshman.

Several news agencies have erroneously reported that Christian is deceased. Patrick Detwiler, spokesman for the hospital, said Christian is in critical condition.

The captain, 63-year-old Robin Walbridge, remains unaccounted for. According to the Bounty's cached website, Walbridge has captained the ship since 1995 and grew up in St. Petersburg, Fla., where the ship was heading when it went down.

Both Christian and Walbridge were reportedly wearing cold water survival suits and life jackets.

11:36 a.m. update

Fourteen people have been rescued and two people are missing from the tall ship HMS Bounty off Cape Hatteras, N.C. after the crew was forced to abandon ship due to Hurricane Sandy.

According to the ship's Facebook page, the vessel departed New London on Oct. 25 after spending two days in port here. The Bounty was en route to St. Petersburg, Fla.

Fourteen crew members were rescued from life rafts by Coast Guard helicopters. A military aircraft continues to search the area as the Coast Guard evaluates whether a rescue mission can be conducted in current weather conditions.

The 180-foot ship was builty for the 1962 film "Mutiny on the Bounty" and also appeared in "Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest." It is based in Setauket, N.Y. Last year, mayoral candidate Andrew Lockwood suggested as part of his platform that New London could purchase the vessel in cooperation with other towns to have it as a waterfront tourist attraction.

The Bounty reportedly sank after the crew abandoned the ship. The latest post on the vessel's Facebook page says there are several conflicting stories about the incident.

"Please bear with us...We are waiting for some confirmation," the latest post reads.

Update, 9:50 a.m.: United States Coast Guard officials said two crew members of the storied HMS Bounty are still missing in the waters outside Cape Hatteras, N.C. after stormy seas forced the crew to abandon ship.

The Coast Guard, in a statement Monday morning, said 14 members of the crew were rescued by helicopters and sent to Air Station Elizabeth City where they will be treated.

A military aircraft is still searching the area.

Original story: Crew members of the celebrated HMS Bounty tall ship have abandoned ship off Cape Hatteras, N.C., in the wake of Hurricane Sandy.

According to the United States Coast Guard, the 16-person crew has all been accounted for though remain in choppy seas, adrift in two 25-man lifeboats with canopies.

The ship, which was recently a popular tourist attraction in both Greenport and Port Jefferson, is a replica of HMS Bounty, which launched in Lunenburg in 1960 and was made famous in the 1962 film "Mutiny on the Bounty," featuring Marlon Brando. It has also appeared in "Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest" starring Johnny Depp.

Coast Guard officials are weighing whether rescue mission can be conducted in the rough weather.

Coast Guard in a statement said the evacuation of the Bounty took place among 18-foot seas and 40 mile-per-hour winds, and that the 180-foot ship was taking on water due to improper propulsion.

The HMS Bounty's Facebook page called the Coast Guard report "premature" and only 14 of the 17 crew members had been accounted for. A Canadian Broadcasting Corporation report claimed that 16 of 17 were hoisted to safety, and said that the ship sank hours after the evacuation.

The Coast Guard's North Carolina sector reported receiving a call from the owner of HMS Bounty, saying she had lost communication with the vessel's crew late Sunday evening. Coast Guard officials said an air crew from Coast Guard Air Station Elizabeth City was dispatched, which later arrived on scene and reestablished communications with the Bounty's crew.

A message left with the local Coast Guard public affairs office was not immediately returned, and officials at the New London office could not confirm the status of the Bounty.

Editor's note: The Coast Guard earlier reported the crew was 17 members.

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