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NEW INFO: Coast Guard To Investigate Deadly Ship Sinking

The Coast Guard has ordered a formal investigation into the deadly sinking of the HMS Bounty during Hurricane Sandy.

Rear Adm. Steven Ratti, the Coast Guard 5th District commander, ordered the probe to find out why the ship went down 90 miles southeast of Hatteras on Monday. One crewmember died, and the captain is still missing.

The Coast Guard suspended its search for Captain Robin Walbridge of St. Petersburg., Fla. on Thursday night, after four days of surface and air searching.

The investigation aims to determine the cause of the accident; whether there is evidence that any failure of material or equipment was involved or contributed to the casualty; whether there is evidence that any act of misconduct, inattention to duty, negligence, or willful violation of the law on the part of any licensed or certificated person contributed to the casualty; whether there is evidence that any Coast Guard or other government agency personnel caused or contributed to the casualty; and whether the accident should be further investigated by a Marine Board of Investigation.

The Coast Guard says the investigation is not intended to determine civil or criminal responsibility. The goal is to take appropriate measures for promoting safety of life and property.
The investigation is expected to take several months.

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The Coast Guard sent a press release just before 7:00 p.m. Thursday announcing it suspended its search for the missing captain of the HMS Bounty 200 miles southeast of Hatteras. Missing is 63-year-old Robin Walbridge of St. Petersburg, Florida.

Coast Guard crews searched more than 90 hours, covering approximately 12,000 overlapping square nautical miles in the Atlantic Ocean since the HMS Bounty's crew abandoned ship Monday morning. Monday night the only other missing crew member, 42-year-old Claudene Christian, who grew up in Alaska and most recently lived in Vian, Oklahoma was found but did not survive.

“Our thoughts and prayers are with the Walbridge and Christian families," said Capt. Doug Cameron, the chief of incident response for the Coast Guard 5th District. ”Suspending a search and rescue case is one of the hardest decisions we have to make.”

MH-60 Jayhawk crews and HC-130 Hercules aircrews from Elizabeth City and the crew aboard the Coast Guard Cutter Elm, a 225-foot buoy tender home ported in Atlantic Beach helped in the search.

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The Coast Guard says it is continuing to search for a missing ship captain who was last seen Monday morning.

Fourteen people were rescued from the HMS Bounty when the 180-foot, three-mast tall ship took on water as Hurricane Sandy skirted the North Carolina coast.

Captain Robin Walbridge, and another crew member were reported missing. 42-year-old Claudene Christian was found late Monday afternoon, but the woman died at an Elizabeth City hospital.

The Coast Guard Cutter Gallatin, a 378-foot high-endurance cutter from Charleston, S.C., along with an HC-130 Hercules from Elizabeth City continue to search for Walbridge.

"As of now, our intent is to continue searching for the missing person," said Capt. Doug Cameron, the chief of incident response for the Coast Guard 5th District. "This is still an active search, not a recovery effort. Factors such as fitness of the member, weather conditions, survival equipment and the results from previous searches are taken into consideration to determine how long the Coast Guard will search."

The Coast Guard is searching approximately 1,200 square nautical miles.

They say the water temperature is 79 degrees, air temperature 62 degrees, seas are 4 feet, and the winds are 30 mph.


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The search for the captain of a tall ship that sank in the Atlantic during Sandy is in its third day.

The Coast Guard Cutter Gallatin, a 378-foot high-endurance cutter from Charleston, S.C., arrived Tuesday afternoon to search for Robin Walbridge.

A crew aboard an HC-144 Ocean Sentry aircraft from Miami conducted a four-hour search Wednesday morning, a Hercules aircrew from Clearwater, Fla., began a search at approximately 7:30 a.m. and a Hercules aircrew from Elizabeth City will conduct a search after the Clearwater Hercules crew completes their search.

"As of now, our intent is to continue searching for the missing person," said Capt. Doug Cameron, the chief of incident response for the Coast Guard 5th District. "This is still an active search, not a recovery effort. Factors such as fitness of the member, weather conditions, survival equipment and the results from previous searches are taken into consideration to determine how long the Coast Guard will search."

The Coast Guard is searching an area approximately 1,500 square nautical miles.

Fourteen people were rescued from the HMS Bounty when the 180-foot, three-mast tall ship took on water as Hurricane Sandy skirted the North Carolina coast.

Wainbridge, and another crew member were reported missing.
42-year-old Claudene Christian was found late Monday afternoon, but the woman died at an Elizabeth City hospital.


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ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (AP) -- The Coast Guard will search a second night for the captain of a doomed tall ship that sank during Hurricane Sandy.

Coast Guard spokesman Lt. Mike Patterson says the search for the HMS Bounty captain will continue through Tuesday night with a C-130 plane and 2 cutter ships.

Searchers hope that 63-year-old Robin Walbridge of St. Petersburg, Fla., has been able to survive in the relatively mild 77-degree waters of the Atlantic about 90 miles off Cape Hatteras.

Patterson says search planes can no longer see the Bounty, an 18th-century replica tall ship used in many movie dramas. The ship's masts had stayed visible for hours after the decks disappeared below the waves early Monday.

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The Coast Guard says the missing captain of the HMS Bounty could still be alive, more than a day after his ship sank in high winds and seas.

Coast Guard Captain Joe Kelly says Robin Walbridge of St. Petersburg, Florida went overboard early Monday when the 180-foot ship rolled as the deck slid below 18-foot waves.

The Coast Guard is searching 1,350 square nautical miles. The water temperature is 77 degrees and winds are 42 miles per hour.

The wife of Walbridge is awaiting news on her husband. Claudia McCann told The Associated Press that her husband is an experienced sailor who has been in many storms.

McCann says she last heard from her husband on Saturday in an email, when he assured her that he and the crew were prepared for the voyage.

Click Here: Dramatic Coast Guard Rescue Footage

Fourteen members of the ship's crew were rescued Monday morning. Some of the Coast Guard crew members involved in that rescue were interviewed live on the TODAY Show this morning.

Rescue swimmer Daniel Todd told Matt Lauer, "We're comfortable in our own abilities to be able to go up there and do that. Anyone of the people I work with...could have done what I did. It is what we do."

Another member of the crew, Jenny Field, explained how the survivors seemed "taken aback" when they first got into the Coast Guard helicopter. "Then they started to realize they were leaving, and this was over, and that there were still people left behind."

Field also explained that the Coast Guard uses formulas to determine how long a person could survive in the ocean.

The search continued for the captain all night Monday and into Tuesday morning, despite darkness and the rough condition on the ocean. A Coast Guard spokesman said the crew of the Coast Guard Cutter Elm searched all night long.

The Coast Guard is also bringing help from their other bases. A helicopter from Miami searched for four hours overnight, a spokesman said. A C-130 normally stationed in Clearwater, Fla. arrived at 7:30 a.m. to continue the search, while the cutter Gallatin is expected to arrive later this morning or early afternoon.

Meanwhile, the Albermarle Hospital in Elizabeth City says the crew member of the HMS Bounty recovered late Monday by the U.S. Coast Guard has died.

Fourteen people were rescued from the HMS Bounty when the 180-foot, three-mast tall ship took on water as Hurricane Sandy skirted the North Carolina coast.

Shortly after 6:00 p.m. Monday, a Coast Guard helicopter returned to the Elizabeth City Coast Guard station where they rushed 42-year-old Claudene Christian to a local hospital. The woman was unresponsive, according to the Coast Guard.

A hospital official told WITN Monday night the woman had passed away.

Walbridge's biography on the tall ship bounty's website states he's been sailing since the age of 18, and he has taught adult education and basic navigation to fishing and boat guides.

Also Tuesday, the families of the crew members who survived the ship's sinking were arriving in Elizabeth City to pick up their loved ones.


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Elizabeth City, NC -- The captain of a ship that sank this morning off the North Carolina coast remains missing along with a fellow crew member.

Fourteen people were rescued from the HMS Bounty when the 180-foot, three-mast tall ship took on water as Hurricane Sandy skirted the North Carolina coast.

The ship sunk, according to the Coast Guard at 8:45 a.m. Monday.

The Coast Guard continues to use a helicopter and an airplane to search for the two remaining crew members. They are the captain, 63-year-old Robin Walbridge, and crewmember Claudene Christian, who is 42 years old.

The Coast Guard says the first Jayhawk helicopter crew reached the life rafts around 6:30 a.m., which is about 90 minutes after the crew of the Bounty abandoned ship. Crews hoisted five people into the aircraft at that time. A second helicopter arrived and rescued nine people.

The fourteen rescued crew members were flown to Coast Guard Air Station Elizabeth City. Medical personnel were waiting for them there.

Rescued were:

· Daniel Cleveland, 25
· John Svendsen, 41
· Matthew Sanders, 37
· Adam Prokosh, 27
· Douglas Faunt, 66
· John Jones, 29
· Drew Salapatek, 29
· Joshua Scornavacchi, 25
· Anna Sprague, 20
· Mark Warner, 33
· Christopher Barksdale, 56
· Laura Groves, 28
· Jessica Hewitt, 25
· Jessica Black, 34

WITN's Alize Proisy is at Coast Guard Air Station. Coast Guard rescue swimmer Randy Haba helped rescue crew members from a lifeboat and also helped save a crew member floating alone in the water. He says it was some of the biggest seas he has ever been in.

The Bounty's last position was about 160 miles from Hurricane Sandy's eye. Officials say the ship started taking on water in 18-foot waves and 40 mile per hour winds off the North Carolina coast.

The crew did have cold weather survival gear.

The Coast Guard sent a C-130 and two rescue helicopters, HH60s, to rescue the crew.

We're told the crew had only handheld radios once they abandoned ship, so there was not contact until the aircraft got near the scene.

The Bounty was built for a 1962 film and has been featured in one of the Pirates of the Caribbean movies.

The Bounty has been to Carteret County a couple times, back in the 2000s. According to its website, the Bounty "sails the country offering dockside tours in which one can learn about the history and details of sailing vessels from a lost and romanticized time in maritime history."

It's not clear why the ship set sail in the Atlantic Ocean with Hurricane Sandy churning up the East Coast. On the HMS Bounty facebook page last Thursday, there was a post that the ship departed New London, Connecticut headed for St. Petersburg, Florida, and would be sailing due east out to sea before heading south to avoid the brunt of Hurricane Sandy.

The HMS Bounty facebook page says they received a distress call from Bounty at 6:30 Sunday evening that the Ship lost power and the pumps were unable to keep up with the dewatering. They then contacted the U.S. Coast Guard for assistance.


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