Coast Guard Investigation Into HMS Bounty Sinking Set For February

Two perished when the tall ship, sailing from New London, went down during Hurricane Sandy


The United States Coast Guard will hold a formal hearing next month to investigate the Oct. 29 sinking of the HMS Bounty, the service announced today.

A formal hearing on the incident will run from Feb. 12 to 21 at the Renaissance Portsmouth Hotel and Waterfront Conference Center in Portsmouth, Va. The hearing "will examine the facts and circumstances relating to the sinking of the vessel and will develop conclusions and recommendations to improve the safety and operations of similar vessels," according to a Coast Guard press release. The National Transportation Safety Board will also participate in the investigation.

The Bounty, a 180-foot tall ship built as a replica for the 1962 film Mutiny on the Bounty, sank about 90 miles southeast of Hatteras, N.C., in rough seas during Hurricane Sandy. The ship had stayed in New London from Oct. 23 to 25, departing on the latter date to sail for St. Petersburg, Fla. Messages on the ship's Facebook page said the Bounty decided to sail despite the approaching hurricane on the belief that the ship would be safer encountering the storm at sea than in port.

The ship sank after one of its generators failed and the vessel began taking on water. Fourteen crew members were airlifted to safety by the Coast Guard. Crew member Claudene Christian, 42, was found in the water unresponsive several hours later and later pronounced dead. The Bounty's captain, 63-year-old Robin Wallbridge, remained missing after a four-day search and was presumed dead.

The search for Christian and Wallbridge following the Bounty's sinking lasted 90 hours and covered 12,000 overlapping square nautical miles.

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