June 13, 2014

Coast Guard releases report on
sinking of the tall ship Bounty

The U.S. Coast Guard yesterday released its report of the investigation into the October 2012 sinking of the tall ship Bounty, during which one crewmember died and another remains missing and is presumed dead, off the coast of Cape Hatteras.

Despite the fact that the massive Hurricane Sandy was heading up the East Coast and forecast to come ashore near New Jersey, the captain of the Bounty, which was built for the Marlon Brando film "Mutiny on the Bounty," made a decision to leave New London, Conn., on Oct. 25, 2012, heading south.

By Sunday, Oct. 28, the ship was in trouble and being battered by massive waves about 123 miles off  Cape Hatteras. A decision was made to abandon ship at daylight, but overnight, the crew was forced to go ahead and abandon the sinking vessel.

In the early morning hours of Monday, Oct. 29, two MH-60 Jayhawks were dispatched from Air Station Elizabeth City and, despite the risk to their own lives, the crews of the two helicopters rescued 14 Bounty crew members.

The findings in the report conclude that a combination of faulty management and crew risk assessment procedures contributed to the sinking. Specifically, choosing to navigate a vessel in insufficient material condition  in close proximity to an approaching hurricane with an inexperienced crew was highlighted.

As a result of the investigation, the report recommends that the Coast Guard review the existing policy for attraction vessels, including vessel manning and operating status.

The report also lists such recommendations as that the HMS Bounty Organization establish organizational policy that dictates vessel operational parameters based on weather, sea state or destination, and also establish organizational policy and requirements for hiring of a professional engineer in the event they operate a vessel in the future.

The report may be accessed at https://homeport.uscg.mil/mycg/portal/ep/browse.do?channelId=-18374.

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