HMS Bounty Crewman Says He Urged Abandoning Ship

The chief mate of a replica 18th-century sailing ship that sank off North Carolina during Hurricane Sandy says he urged the ship's captain to abandon ship twice before he gave the order to do so.

One member of the HMS Bounty's crew died, and the captain was never found after the ship sank 90 miles off Cape Hatteras during the October storm.

A federal safety panel began hearing testimony Tuesday in Virginia to examine what led to the sinking.

John Svendsen says the ship was taking on water and had no power when it rolled over and sank. He also told investigators the captain didn't alert Coast Guard officials of the ship's deteriorating condition when he first suggested it.

Surviving crew members were among those subpoenaed to testify.

(Copyright 2013 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

Previous Story

The owner of the HMS Bounty has taken the fifth and will not testify during U.S. Coast Guard hearings that began this morning.

The tall ship sunk off the coast of Hatteras last October as Hurricane Sandy swept north.

The Coast Guard rescued 14 crewmembers from the ship back on October 29. Crewmember Claudene Christian was found but she died at the hospital. The ship's captain, Robin Walbridge, was never located.

Coast Guard officials say they were notified by an attorney for owner Robert Hansen that he was invoking his Fifth Amendment right to be protected from incriminating himself.

The first witness called was chief mate John Svendsen who told the Coast Guard that Walbridge liked to chase hurricanes with the sailing ship.

The Coast Guard along with the National Transportation Safety Board is looking at details of the investigation to answer more questions about this ship's sinking and see if there's anything to learn from the tragedy for the Coast Guard or other similar ships.

That hearing is taking place in Portsmouth, Virginia.