30 Oct 2012

One dead, captain missing as replica Bounty sinks

6:51 pm on 30 October 2012

A woman rescued after super storm Sandy sank a tall ship off the United States has died, while the captain remains missing.

Claudene Christian, 42, was found "unresponsive" at sea and taken to hospital amid a dramatic rescue operation in wild Atlantic Ocean swells whipped up by the storm. Her death was later confirmed by the hospital, AFP reports.

The crew abandoned the 55-metre, three-mast HMS Bounty, built in 1960 for the film Mutiny on the Bounty starring Marlon Brando before it sank in the fierce seas, its owner said.

The voyage with the ship's permanent, paid crew left from Connecticut last week and had been due to arrive in Florida on 10 November, Tracey Simonin, director of the ship's owner, The HMS Bounty Organisation, said.

The ship was off the coast of North Carolina when it radioed in a distress call on Sunday night.

Before dawn on Monday, with the ship lacking power and taking on water, the crew, unable to pump fast enough, abandoned ship and took to two lifeboats in cold water survival suits and life jackets, the Coast Guard said.

Coast Guard helicopters plucked 14 crew members out of the raging water. Ms Christian was found later in the day, but the captain, identified as Robin Walbridge, 63, was still missing.

The HMS Bounty was a replica of the eponymous British transport vessel known for the mutiny that took place in Tahiti in 1789.

Besides being used in documentaries and Hollywood movies, including Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest, the vessel offered tours for people to learn about 18th century square-rigged sailing.