Crewmember S.O.S., Maritime Matter of the Week

HMS Bounty Passenger Dies After Abandoning Ship During Hurricane Sandy


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The family of a woman onboard the HMS Bounty might consider hiring a maritime lawyer after the victim had to abandon ship in the midst of Hurricane Sandy. The woman abandoned the vessel when it was determined that it was going to sink and although she was rescued by the Coast Guard in the Atlantic, according to Coast Guard Petty Officer 3rd Class David Weydert, Claudene Christian, 42, was unresponsive when she was pulled from the water Monday evening. Christian was taken to Albemarle Hospital in Elizabeth City, N.C., where she was pronounced dead Tuesday morning.

Fourteen people were rescued from the HMS Bounty, a three-masted, 180-foot replica of the historic 18th century merchant vessel, early Monday morning off the coast of North Carolina. Emergency crews are still looking for the ship’s captain, Robin Walbridge, 63.

As the ship began to flood, the crew began abandoning ship and Christian and Walbridge were washed into the sea.

“What we know is that the whole crew was getting ready to board the life rafts, and as they were about to board, three people ended up on the water. One was able to get out [of the water] and get into rafts,” Coast Guard Lt. Junior Grade Brendan Selerno told Monday.

The owner of the ship called the Coast Guard when she lost contact with the crew. At that point, the Bounty was about 90 miles southeast of Hatteras, North Carolina. A C130 plane spotted the wreckage this morning and one sailor was found adrift wearing an insulated suit called a Gumby suit, with strobe lights attached to it. The sailor was hoisted onto one of the choppers taking part in the search and the C130 returned to searching for other survivors.

The emergency crew then found seven other survivors in a covered raft, which were hoisted up to safety. The survivors were all taken back to shore to be treated at area hospitals. Two people were admitted: one with a broken arm and one with an injured back.

Initial reports said there were 17 people aboard the Bounty, but the manifest indicates only 16 people were aboard.

Cathy Carey, a former president of the Society of Preservation of the HMS Bounty, wondered why the ship was taken out into the storm, even though the captain knew Hurricane Sandy was approaching.

“He knew the storm was coming, for a couple of weeks. He had plenty of time to know,” she said. “He shouldn’t have gone out there, but it’s all hindsight now.”
While Hurricane Sandy caused waves as large as 32 feet high, the Bounty wasn’t the only ship out in the rough waters. At least five cruise ships braved the storm, including the AIDA Luna, the Carnival Miracle, Royal Caribbean’s Explorer of the Seas, the Norwegian Jewel, and the Queen Mary 2, which could have placed the lives of all onboard in danger.

Other cruise ships out at sea have been forced to re-route and are experiencing delays in returning to port. Many cruise lines have even cancelled trips in order to protect the safety of passengers and crewmembers onboard.

The operators of cruise ships, cargo vessels and other boats are responsible for keeping all onboard safe. If you or someone you love was injured while onboard a vessel because of rough conditions caused by Hurricane Sandy, turn to our maritime lawyers immediately for assistance in filing a claim. With over 165 years of combined experience protecting the rights of passengers and crewmembers, our maritime attorneys will work diligently on your case to protect your rights. Call us today to get started on your case.


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