U.S. Coast Guard teams battling Hurricane Sandy have rescued 15 of 16 crewmembers who had abandoned the movie ship HMS Bounty before it sank off North Carolina early Monday.
One of two missing crewmembers who had been missing after the initial rescue of 14 was found hours later, but the captain has not been found, the Coast Guard said.
Claudene Christian, 42, was being taken to a hospital, Lt. Mike Patterson told the Associated Press.
The 180-foot, three-masted ship was built for the 1962 film Mutiny on the Bounty and was also featured in a Pirates of the Caribbean movie, according to the The HMS Bounty Organization website, the Associated Press reported.
The Coast Guard said all 16 members of the crew had made it onto life rafts before the three-masted ship sank, but 14 people were hoisted to safety by the two Jayhawk helicopters dispatched from North Carolina.
It was not immediately clear why the two missing crewmembers were not among those rescued 90 miles southeast of Hatteras, N.C.
Coast Guard officials reported that the 14, who were flown to Coast Guard Air Station Elizabeth City, N.C., for medical attention, did not sustain any life-threatening injuries.
WITN-TV reporter Alize Proisy, who was at the Air Station were the survivors were brought in, reported that Coast Guard rescue swimmer Randy Haba helped remove crewmembers from a lifeboat and also helped save one crewmember floating alone in the water.
Haba told WITN that that wind-driven ocean at the scene was some of the biggest seas he has ever been in.
Coast Guard Lt. Brendan Selerno said that an expanded air search was underway for the missing pair, who were believed to be in cold water survival suits and life jackets, the CBC reported.
A Coast Guard Hercules C-130 remained on the scene as officials plotted wind direction and speed to aid in the search.
The Coast Guard also reported that the HMS Bounty had sunk, although its mast was still visible above the water. The Coast Guard also said there were only 16 people aboard the ship when it ran into trouble, not 17 as initially reported.
The director of the HMS Bounty Organization, Tracie Simonin, said the tall ship had left Connecticut last week en route for St. Petersburg, Fla., the Associated Press reported.
"They were staying in constant contact with the National Hurricane Center," she said. "They were trying to make it around the storm."
The first helicopter reached the scene around 6:30 a.m., about 90 minutes after the crew abandoned ship, and hoisted five people aboard. The second chopper plucked nine people from a second life raft.
The 14 were safely back at the Coast Guard Air Station Elizabeth City, N.C., by mid-morning, WITN-TV reported.
The crew abandoned the ship, which had lost propulsion, after it began taking on water, the Coast Guard said, according to the Associated Press.
Powered by Leaflet - Terms & FeedbackHatteras, N.C.
The ship was trapped in 40 mph winds and 18-foot seas about 160 miles west of the eye of the hurricane, according to a Coast Guard statement.
Coast Guard Vice Adm. Robert Parker, Operational Commander for the Atlantic Area, told ABC's Good Morning America that at the time of the distress call, the ship was taking on two feet of water an hour. It had about 10 feet of water when the crew abandoned the ship.
The Coast Guard first received a call Sunday evening from the ship's owner who said she had lost communication with the crew.
A signal from the ship's emergency radio beacon later confirmed that the vessel was in distress and gave its position.
Here is how HMS Bounty Facebook page described what happened:
We received a distress call for Bounty at 1830 Sunday evening that the Ship lost power and the pumps were unable to keep up with the dewatering. At that time we immediately contacted the USCG for assistance.
Written By: Doug Stanglin, USA TODAY