Hurricane Sandy claims famous tall ship off NC coast

HMS Bounty

The final hours of the HMS Bounty were as dramatic as the Hollywood adventure films she starred in, with the crew abandoning ship in life rafts as their stately craft slowly went down in the immense waves churned up by Hurricane Sandy off the North Carolina coast.

By the time the first rescue helicopter arrived, all that was visible of the replica 18th-century sailing vessel was a strobe light at the top of the mighty ship's submerged masts. The roiling Atlantic Ocean had claimed the rest.

The Coast Guard rescued 14 crew members by helicopter Monday. Hours later, rescuers found one of the missing crew members, but she was unresponsive. And they were still searching for the captain.

"We pray there's no loss of life and that they rescue all of the crew,'' said Bill Foster, mayor of St. Petersburg, Florida, a frequent winter port for the ship and where it had been expected to arrive in November. ``When a crew decides it's safer in an inflatable than it is on deck, then you know she's in peril.''

The ship was originally built for the 1962 film ``Mutiny on the Bounty'' starring Marlon Brando, and it was featured in several other films over the years, including one of the ``Pirates of the Caribbean'' movies.

The vessel left Connecticut on Thursday with a crew of 11 men and five women, ranging in age from 20 to 66. Everyone aboard knew the journey could be treacherous.

"This will be a tough voyage for Bounty,'' read a posting on the ship's Facebook page that showed a map of its coordinates and satellite images of the storm.

The Bounty's Facebook page reads like a ship's log of her activities, with many photos of the majestic vessel plying deep blue waters and the crew working in the rigging or keeping watch on the wood-planked deck.

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