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A Sea Story: the Wreck of the Replica HMS Bounty 184

Posted by Soulskill
from the all-i-ask-is-a-tall-ship-and-oh-god-waves dept.
An anonymous reader writes "On October 25, 2012, as residents of the U.S. east coast made frantic preparations for the arrival of Hurricane Sandy, the captain of the HMS Bounty (a replica tall ship constructed fifty years earlier for the Marlon Brando film Mutiny on the Bounty) made a foolish decision, with the assent of his crew, to proceed with a scheduled voyage from New London, CT for St. Petersburg FL. CNN's Thom Patterson has written a long story with the benefit of survivor testimony to the NTSB and U.S. Coast Guard. Captain Robin Walbridge thought he could outrun the hurricane, and besides, he'd 'sailed into hurricanes before.' The crew (officially there were no passengers, a fact that allowed the ship to evade certain safety regulations) consisted of tall ship enthusiasts with widely varying amounts of nautical experience, perhaps taken by the vast historical literature on the great age of sailing. A day and a half into the voyage, Captain Walbridge altered his plan of sailing east of the storm, to sailing south and west of it. A day later, the Bounty was less than 200 miles from the eye of the storm; the engine room started to flood, and the pumps were jammed with debris being torn off by the storm's 70 mph winds. The end came early next day, the Bounty was knocked down by a huge wave, tossing the captain and several crew members overboard. The Coast Guard rescued fourteen of the crew members, but Claudene Christian (an adventure-loving novice who had enlisted as crew a few months before) was dead, and Captain Walbridge's body has not been found."
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A Sea Story: the Wreck of the Replica HMS Bounty

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  • Remember: (Score:5, Funny)

    by jodido (1052890) on Saturday March 30, 2013 @07:54PM (#43321573)
    Nature bats last
  • a tragedy all around (Score:4, Informative)

    by onyxruby (118189) <onyxruby&comcast,net> on Saturday March 30, 2013 @07:55PM (#43321581)

    The ship was originally built as a movie prop, cool to look at but lacking substance. It had decades of trouble as a result since it was of dubious seaworthiness for a very long time. The ship never should have been allowed to skirt maritime law the way it did.

    The captain meant well, but his ship wasn't the measure of the dreams that sailed it. The Coast Guard needs to examine how this tragedy was ever allowed to persist for so long and change the law to make sure it never happens again. The loophole that allowed this ship to sail needs closed and the other such ships need safely regulated to museum duty.

    • by russotto (537200) on Saturday March 30, 2013 @08:06PM (#43321649) Journal

      It was sailed for 50 years and only sunk because Capt Dumbass sailed it into a hurricane. Pretty good for a museum piece.

    • by ceoyoyo (59147) on Saturday March 30, 2013 @08:20PM (#43321717)

      No, it doesn't. Just because a bunch of people who took a risk died doesn't mean we need to make laws to stop it in the future.

      When you go to sea you take some risk, under any circumstances. People doing that should take responsibility for it. It's not the coast guard or the government's job to make sure people who make stupid decisions don't get hurt.

      • by Rich0 (548339) on Saturday March 30, 2013 @09:45PM (#43322103) Homepage

        I have to agree. I'm all for regulating passenger travel, because passengers don't have the opportunity to go do a walk-around of their aircraft before boarding, and even if they did they wouldn't know what to look for.

        However, if some idiot wants to take their Cessna up in a hurricane then my main concern is for the home that he ends up crashing into. That isn't as much of a concern for a ship out at sea.

        As long as everybody on the ship could be expected to understand the risks they were taking, then it was their choice to make.

        • by ceoyoyo (59147)

          The summary makes it sound like they were exploiting a loophole in the regulations or something. The Bounty was simply not registered to carry paying passengers (just like the vast majority of private vessels). The crew were most definitely crew. Almost all of them were experienced sailors and, except for one retired volunteer, were all being paid.

          It's hard to say what happened without more information, but it sounds like the captain took a risk and paid for it. The crew was consulted before they left,

          • by msauve (701917) on Saturday March 30, 2013 @11:15PM (#43322379)
            "Almost all of them were experienced sailors "

            Well, about that...

            Walbridge had decades at sea. Svendsen had worked tall ships prior to Bounty. The rest of the crew- so far it seems â" had an experience base of one:

            The third mate, Dan Cleveland (25), came aboard from a career in landscaping. Bounty was his first wooden tall ship.
            The Bosun, Laura Groves (28), had experience on smaller boats in the Keys. Bounty was her first wooden tall ship.
            Joshua Scornavacchi (25), was on his first wooden tall ship.
            Second mate Matt Sanders (37) had worked on a series of ships, including the schooner Margaret Todd, but Bounty was (wait for it) his first wooden tall ship.
            Testifying Wednesday morning was Anna Sprague (20); of course it was her first wooden tall ship.
            Claudene Christian (42) , was on her first wooden tall ship.

            When the new cook, Jessica Black (34), put on her immersion suit to abandon ship on the 29th of October, she had been aboard Bounty - her first wooden tall ship - for a grand total of 45 hours.

            -- Bounty hearings [gcaptain.com].

            "The summary makes it sound like they were exploiting a loophole in the regulations or something. "

            There's more...including

            The witness, Todd Kosakowski, looked at Coast Guard's evidence... Mr. Kosakowski - the lead shipwright and project manager for Boothbay Harbor Shipyards - was in charge of the last maintenance project ever to be done on Bounty...

            The pictures were of rotted frames and fasteners (trunnels) he found under the planking during repairs. Kosakowski told NTSB investigator Captain Rob Jones that he believes 75% of the framing above the waterline on Bounty may have been rotten, but that the ship's representative in the yard, Captain Robin Walbridge, declined any further search for rotted wood...

            Bounty was in a sort of regulatory no-man's-land. She was a recreational vessel, a well-crewed yacht, and it was none of big brother's business how she was maintained. Two things were making that true: 1. She wasn't nearly configured to pass inspection as a Coast Guard certificated passenger vessel, and 2: She was measured at under 300 regulatory tons - and that meant she didn't need an international load line certificate.

            the rest of it is an interesting read, with more detail than the CNN article. No, they weren't an experienced crew, and yes, they were playing loose with the rules.

            • by ceoyoyo (59147)

              You've enumerated their experience on tall ships. Rereading the article, it sounds like ALL of them were experienced sailors, with the possible exception of the electrician, who may or may not have been. Anybody with any knowledge of sailing at all knows that hurricanes are dangerous and anybody with more than basic knowledge, which all of these people had, should know that things like a cluttered, messy engine room and a captain who likes purposely sailing into hurricanes are bad news.

              The inexperience of

              • by Shinobi (19308)

                The problem was that the captain had a cult of personality around him, and only chose crew who responded to his projected image of resolve and competence. There was also the factor of feelings of duty etc, that to have stayed on land would have been dereliction of duty, abandoning their comrades etc.(Something many in the US falls for entirely, even in mundane things such as work, easily being conned into working unpaid overtime etc...)

                The general consensus on Sailing Anarchy was that the captain was a nut,

                • by drinkypoo (153816)

                  The problem was that the captain had a cult of personality around him, and only chose crew who responded to his projected image of resolve and competence.

                  So what you're saying is... no great loss. Easily led sheep will be easily led in any direction. Anyone who'd been on a tall ship for two days and decided to sail into a storm that was broadly considered to be one of the most dangerous things we'd seen in some time is a moron who should be prevented from passing on their genetics by any means necessary.

                  • by Shinobi (19308)

                    Given your stated views on OSS philosophy, you could also be one of those "easily led sheep", just in another spectrum, so be careful about what generalisations you toss around. People have different blind spots. Case in point, RMS. He's done very little that can be considered productive after mid-80's yet many geeks blindly follow his preaching without further questioning.

                    Also, you're talking about the storm in retrospective: Many persons, even geeks here on Slashdot who should have enough physics

                • by ceoyoyo (59147)

                  Yup, from what I've read I think it's likely the captain was a nut too. If he had survived he would probably be facing some serious repercussions. Possibly the other ship's officers need to be punished. That's why there's been an inquiry. But everyone who went out on that ship should have been capable of assessing the danger, and was given the opportunity not to go. There are well established laws and customs governing this sort of thing. We don't need more.

                  On another note, I don't understand why peer

      • Just because a bunch of people who took a risk died doesn't mean we need to make laws to stop it in the future.

        Except in this case it was the captain who took the risk doing minimal maintenance on the ship and trying to "use" the hurricane winds rather then going east around the storm. It's not like the captain held a meeting, explained the situation and took a vote before changing course.

        This reminds me of the B-25 that crashed [wikipedia.org] into the Empire State Building killing the pilot and 13 other people. The pilot was advised by the airport of zero visibility but chose to try and land anyway. If I remember right a law was

        • by ceoyoyo (59147) on Saturday March 30, 2013 @10:48PM (#43322299)

          Actually, that's exactly what he did. Reported in the first section of the article. Except you don't "hold a vote" on a ship. The captain tells you where the ship is going and you have the chance to quit if you feel it's too dangerous. The crew had that chance and nobody decided to quit.

          Yes, the captain sounds reckless. If he had survived it seems likely his license would be in jeopardy, as it should be. If he did knowingly take an unseaworthy vessel to sea there are already laws against that.

          • I'm not sure how much of a choice the crew had

            There was no mention of future employment on the Bounty for departing crew, the third mate testified, nor did the captain offer to pay expenses home.

            So the crew would probably have lost a job they love.

            They trusted the skipper almost without question.

            Further more they had no reason to doubt that the captain was doing anything too reckless when they made the decision to stay. However, halfway into the voyage

            Around 9:30 a.m. on Saturday, October 27, about 300 miles east of Virginia Beach, Virginia, the captain made his move: Instead of continuing with his original plan to stay east of the storm, he ordered the crew to change course. He wanted to pilot the ship northwest of Sandy to harness its winds. Turning more westerly, the boat crossed the path of the oncoming hurricane.

            I think a lot of labour laws get passed because of incidents like this. People on the job don't speak up because they fear loosing their job and what their being asked to do doesn't seem (at the time) all that risky and they also trust their boss who ha

            • by ceoyoyo (59147) on Sunday March 31, 2013 @12:30AM (#43322617)

              There are already laws about what orders are legal for a captain to give, and what options crew have.

              People have been working these issues out in a modern legal way for several hundred years and in a less modern way for a few thousand before that. Maritime law is VERY mature. It doesn't need some knee jerk regulation inspired by one shipwreck.

              If a captain is found to have endangered the safety of his ship and crew he can be punished, including loss of his license and jail time. He doesn't get to hide behind a regulation like a regular boss (but I TOLD them to use safety harnesses....)

              At a higher level, people need to quit acting like serfs. If your boss tells you to do something dangerous, illegal or immoral, don't do it. Or go ahead and do it, but accept that the responsibility is yours.

            • by drinkypoo (153816)

              I'm not sure how much of a choice the crew had

              There was no mention of future employment on the Bounty for departing crew, the third mate testified, nor did the captain offer to pay expenses home.

              So the crew would probably have lost a job they love.

              You have utterly failed to address the issue at hand, whether the crew had a choice as to whether to do a very stupid and almost certainly deadly thing. They chose to do it.

              They trusted the skipper almost without question.

              Further more they had no reason to doubt that the captain was doing anything too reckless when they made the decision to stay. However, halfway into the voyage

              Yes, they had every reason to doubt. It made no sense to go out at that time, period.

              I think a lot of labour laws get passed because of incidents like this. People on the job don't speak up because they fear loosing their job and what their being asked to do doesn't seem (at the time) all that risky

              Great, then we get some jerk-off labor laws that onl

            • by DarkOx (621550)

              I just can't get behind that sort of regulation. I don't see why we can't expect people to refuse to do something that they think will get them killed.

              I mean really so what if you loose your job. Not like having money to eat will do you much good if you are a corpse.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by khallow (566160)

      The ship never should have been allowed to skirt maritime law the way it did.

      Why? Even if everyone had died, it wouldn't have been a big deal. People die all the time no matter how much regulation is out there.

    • by mysidia (191772) on Saturday March 30, 2013 @08:39PM (#43321827)

      The captain meant well, but his ship wasn't the measure of the dreams that sailed it.

      People do stupid shit, and put themselves in danger -- and they have a right to do so. We don't need to change the law in this case.

      His crew understood or should have understood the risks.

      The knowledge of the tragedy should serve as a bigger deterrant than any to sailors who would otherwise be so fool-hardy as to sail within reach of a hurricane.

      • by onyxruby (118189)

        Except they also put other people in danger when they do so. Other ships in the area also would have felt obligated to take a risk with their own crews to try to save the crew of the Bounty if they were in the area. The Coast Guard is obligated by law to put their own lives on the line to save people when they reasonably can. These sailors risk their life and limb often enough without someone foolishly compelling them to do so on their behalf.

        You also have the dangers presented by the wreck to navigation wh

        • by mysidia (191772)

          Except they also put other people in danger when they do so. Other ships in the area also would have felt obligated to take a risk with their own crews to try to save the crew of the Bounty if they were in the area.

          Except they most likely they wouldn't be suicidal enough to go into the area, until the storm passed.

          These are possible reasons their conduct of sailing into a storm should have been prohibited, and got their captain wreckless endangerment and manslaughter charges of some sort; but not opera

    • by ShanghaiBill (739463) * on Saturday March 30, 2013 @09:24PM (#43322029)

      The loophole that allowed this ship to sail needs closed and the other such ships need safely regulated to museum duty.

      The solution to every problem is not more laws, more regulation, and more bureaucrats. If we are going to progress as a species, we need fewer laws that protect people from their own stupidity, so Darwinism can take its course.

    • by fermion (181285)
      People get killed all the time. Car accidents, jumping off the roof, drinking too much, etc.It is probably useful to have laws against such behavior, but really if dumb people are going to be dumb, we can't stop. The only problem is who is going to pay fot the rescue and medical bills. For instance, helmets are a personal issue, but a great deal of the medical expense for riders who don't wear helmets are paid by the taxpayer.

      tThe other thing is that many people have no experience with a hurricane, at

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Dishevel (1105119)

      How about NO.
      Let us not make a new law to cover idiots that want to die.
      How about this. Lets just move on. People are allowed to take risks. Risk equals danger.
      You nanny ass motherfuckers piss me off. People like you are the reason that society sucks so badly.
      We do not need a law for this. We do not need to regulate people jumping out of airplanes.
      We do not need to regulate people jumping off cliffs.
      We do not need to regulate people owning guns.
      We do not need to regulate what people eat.
      We do not need to re

      • So long as you only harm yourself I agree.

        I do think we need laws about you smoking around other people though. That is something I find very annoying how can you be sitting somewhere and someone will come up to you and smoke. They have the right to harm themselves, they don't have the right to harm you.

        Everyone on this ship basically had informed consent. I have no issues with what they did nor do we need laws against it. The coast card should be paid though by the person that owned the ship though for the

        • So long as you only harm yourself I agree.

          I do think we need laws about you smoking around other people though. That is something I find very annoying how can you be sitting somewhere and someone will come up to you and smoke. They have the right to harm themselves, they don't have the right to harm you.

          As someone who doesn't smoke, I hate your argument and entire line of reasoning. I don't need your government forcing people to accommodate my personal desires related to smoking cigarettes. Forcing all businesses to go smoke-free is asinine. Especially since every business had the opportunity to be smoke-free by their own decision, and almost none did. A few restaurants and nightclubs tried, and changed their mind when revenue plunged.

          I find it strange that only about 20% of adults smoke, but a restaurant

          • " But they all follow the crowds into the smoke-filled restaurants where "the cool people" hang out."

            LMAO - you're right. People are funny. They pretend to hate so many things about other people, but they follow those people around because they are cool.

            I drove truck for several years. The CB radio frequently had dickheads on, badmouthing drivers for this reason or that. They HATED truck drivers! But - they invested in a CB radio so that they could talk to us. They frequented truck stops and trucker's

          • Well, over here, after an initial drop, the restaurant business became actually better after the anti-smoke laws because people (like me for example) who previously opted to stay at home due to the tobacco smoke harassment actually started eating out.

            • by DarkOx (621550)

              Except that does hold for the most part. As the parent poster pointed out lots of restaurants, bars, etc tried to go smoke free before most states passed laws requiring. Many ended up back pedaling because it was a huge hit to patronage.

              If it was all that desirable to offer not just a segregated but entirely smoke free facility it should have given them an advantage with lots of clients. People like you should have preferred those places to other eateries and clubs. Here is Cleveland I can tell you the

        • Smoker hate is so last century. Its the anti fat bastards laws that we need to be considering now. Why should fat people pay the same for aeroplane seats and why should health insurance insure them at all because we must be subsidizing them with their self inflicted diabetes and heart disease. Heck I don't understand why we haven't passed a law to prevent sick people being treated by our medical system completely. After all most of the sick people brought it on themselves. I would make a law so that only pe

          • by drinkypoo (153816)

            Smoker hate is so last century. Its the anti fat bastards laws that we need to be considering now. Why should fat people pay the same for aeroplane seats and why should health insurance insure them at all because we must be subsidizing them with their self inflicted diabetes and heart disease.

            Because the US government spent literally hundreds of millions of The People's money lying to us about what we should eat. Start here [nytimes.com] and work your way forward. (There is a "rebuttal" to the article, and a rebuttal to the rebuttal, and then there are followup articles...)

    • by amorsen (7485)

      Be careful how you change the laws. Copenhagen Suborbitals has the sea launch platform Sputnik [copenhagen...bitals.com]. That exists exactly because small ships without passengers face little regulation. Obviously changing US laws will not cause trouble for Sputnik, so in that way the example is contrived, but it would likely have been quite a hassle for Copenhagen Suborbitals to get the vessel approved. It is not exactly a typical ship, so the paperwork could end up quite substantial.

      I have every reason to believe that Sputnik is

  • by santax (1541065) on Saturday March 30, 2013 @08:05PM (#43321641)
    Always been like that, always will be like that.
  • Might have saved lives.
    Then again, we have to have subordinates -- I mean, ... don't we?

  • by 140Mandak262Jamuna (970587) on Saturday March 30, 2013 @08:19PM (#43321707) Journal
    Lt Fletcher Christian, deputy to Captain William Bligh, commander of HMS Bounty, was the leader of mutineers of the Bounty. Interesting coincidence if there is another Christian on board on the replica. Was he a descendant?
  • by Nyder (754090) on Saturday March 30, 2013 @08:36PM (#43321805) Journal

    mutiny!

  • by WaxlyMolding (1062736) on Saturday March 30, 2013 @09:13PM (#43321993)
    Local media reported here that the ship was in for service at Boothbay, Maine before this occured. The captain was informed that the ship's framing timbers were rotted and needed replacement. They opted to not have the repairs performed and sailed off into a hurricaine.
  • by Anonymous Coward

    On the weather channel... I know on the dish on demand they have the special episode available about this exact incident and rescue. They also have a few higher ranking coast guard folks who mention they have sailed with the captain before being tall ship fans themselves and this guy grew up boating and was more than competent but with the hurricane changing directions he was also forced to but didn't make it quite in time.

    They also interview a few of the crew, many who said this boat has been in worse stor

  • I was in Boothbay Harbor some weeks before, and the Bounty was in drydock having some work done. We gawked and took a few photos, as we had listened to the whole of the Aubrey/Maturin series and wanted to see something from about that period. The next thing I know I see her on TV, masts sticking out of the water.

    One of the details which amused us was that the replica seemed not to have a "seat of ease" up forward.
  • The ship wasn't part of the Royal Navy, so it was just called "Bounty".
  • by Alioth (221270) <no@spam> on Sunday March 31, 2013 @05:32AM (#43323235) Journal

    On a sad footnote, Claudine Christian was a direct descendent of Fletcher Christian, who lead the mutiny on the original Bounty.

  • by SonnyDog09 (1500475) on Sunday March 31, 2013 @06:31AM (#43323381)
    Eternal Father, strong to save,
    Whose arm hath bound the restless wave,
    Who bidd'st the mighty ocean deep
    Its own appointed limits keep;
    Oh, hear us when we cry to Thee,
    For those in peril on the sea!

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