WASHINGTON — A deadly shipwreck during Hurricane Sandy in 2012 was likely the result of “reckless” decision-making on the part of the tall ship’s captain, an investigation by the National Transportation Safety Board found.
One crew member died, three were seriously injured and the ship’s captain, Robin Walbridge, 63, was never found after the HMS Bounty sank off the coast of Cape Hatteras, N.C., in the path of the massive storm that ravaged the East Coast.
Of the ship’s 16 crew members, 10 had less than six months experience on the vessel and nine of the crew had never worked on another tall ship other than the Bounty.
But the scathing report indicates that it was the captain who made the decision to sail during the storm, even telling a Maine TV station that the 50-year-old replica of a 18th century British Admiralty vessel “chased hurricanes.”
“The captain’s view was that a ship is safer at sea rather than in port during a storm, but he told the crew members that if they felt uncomfortable with sailing as scheduled, they were free to leave and to rejoin the vessel later,” the report said. “What everyone, especially the captain and senior crew, seemingly failed to anticipate was the damaging effect that prolonged exposure to the storm would have on the wooden vessel.”
None of the crew chose to rejoin the vessel in Florida.
The Bounty is a 180-foot replica of an 18th century sailing ship that was built for the 1962 film “Mutiny on the Bounty.”