14 rescued, 2 missing from tall ship off NC

Oct. 29, 2012 @ 12:00 PM

The Coast Guard rescued 14 members of a crew forced to abandon the tall ship HMS Bounty caught in Hurricane Sandy off the North Carolina Outer Banks and continued the search Monday for two other crew members.

Coast Guard Petty Officer 1st Class Brandyn Hill said the crew members were rescued by two Coast Guard helicopters around 6:30 a.m. Monday. The survivors were being taken to Air Station Elizabeth City on the North Carolina coast. He had no immediate word on their conditions.

The director of the HMS Bounty Organization, Tracie Simonin, said the tall ship 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."

Hill said an MH60 Jayhawk helicopter from Elizabeth City, N.C., arrived at 6:30 a.m. and rescued nine crew members who had donned survival suits and boarded 25-foot life boats. They abandoned ship after the HMS Bounty began taking on water and lost propulsion in the storm. A second helicopter arrived a short time later and rescued 5 other members of the crew.

The rescue took place in winds of 40 mph and 18-foot seas about 90 miles southeast of Cape Hatteras, N.C.

The Coast Guard initially received a call from the owner of the 180-foot, three mast ship late Sunday evening, saying she had lost communication with the vessel's crew. The Coast Guard in Portsmouth, Va., later received a signal from the emergency position indicating radio beacon of the Bounty, confirming the position.

Coast Guard Vice Adm. Robert Parker, Operational Commander for the Atlantic Area, told ABC's "Good Morning America" that at the time of the distress call the ship was taking on two feet of water an hour.

He said the crew abandoned ship into canopied, rubber life rafts with about 10 feet of water on board.

The HMS Bounty Organization website said the ship was built for the 1962 film "Mutiny on the Bounty," which starred Marlin Brando. The ship was also used in the film "Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest."