Update: 7:39 p.m.: Rescuers have recovered the body one of the missing crewmembers from the replica sailing ship HMS Bounty; according to the U.S. Coast Guard,Claudene Christian, 42, was found by the crew of a MH-60 Jayhawk helicopter; she was transported to a hospital in Elizabeth City, N.J. but was unresponsive. The captain of the Bounty, 63-year-old Robin Walbridge, is still missing.
A helicopter rescue operation has been underway since Monday morning to locate 16 people who abandoned ship when the HMS Bounty started to sink off the coast of North Carolina as Hurricane Sandy neared, Reuters reported. As of 9:55 a.m., 14 of the missing crew members had been rescued.
The U.S. Coast Guard said the 180-foot ship sent out a distressed signal late Sunday night after taking on water. The owner of the HMS Bounty — a replica of an 18th-century three-masted sailing ship built for the 1962 film Mutiny on the Bounty — had lost contact with the crewand alerted the Coast Guard, NBC reported.
The Coast Guard sent an aircraft and found that the ship was still taking on water and had no propulsion. At the ship’s location — 90 miles southeast of Hatteras, N.C. — there were 40 miles per hour winds and 18-foot seas, according to the Coast Guard. The sixteen crew members had put on cold water survival suits with life jackets and launched two lifeboats with canopies.
The ship travels around the county to offer “a glimpse into maritime history,” NBC noted, as it is a replica of a British transport vehicle famous for a mutiny in Tahiti in 1789. When the HMS Bounty foundered it was on its way from New London, Conn., to St. Peterburg, Fla., Reuters reported, where it was supposed to end its current tour on Nov. 10 for a winter hiatus. It is not known why the ship continued to make its trip amid warnings of Hurricane Sandy’s potential to be the largest storm in U.S. history, NBC said.
The Coast Guard sent an MH-60 Jayhawk helicopter to the ship at about 6:30 a.m. on Monday and lifted five crew members to safety. A second helicopter arrived shortly after and rescued nine people. A C-130 Hercules aircraft and a third Jayhawk from the Coast Guard are still searching for the two crew members who remain missing.
The 14 recued people have been sent to Air Station Elizabeth City for emergency medical attention, the Coast Guard said.
The Coast Guard originally reported 17 people missing, but the number was revised to 16.