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USCG report finds fault with Bounty captain

Aug 29, 2014
An aerial photo of Bounty just before the stricken vessel sank during Hurricane Sandy. The captain and one crewmember perished.

An aerial photo of Bounty just before the stricken vessel sank during Hurricane Sandy. The captain and one crewmember perished.

U.S. Coast Guard

A U.S. Coast Guard report released on June 12 stated that both the captain and the company that owned the 52-year-old HMS Bounty, the HMS Bounty Organization LLC, “committed acts of negligence” that caused the tragedy that killed the captain and another crewmember. Fourteen other crewmembers survived.

According to the report, the ship’s captain failed to use effective risk management when he took the tall ship into the impending Hurricane Sandy in 2012. The report also cited that the inexperience of the crew, instability of the ship, and disregard of the weather risk, were the primary reasons for Bounty’s sinking. The report said that Bounty’s captain, Robin Walbridge did not sufficiently address decay within the boat and ignored warnings that the bilge system was not functioning properly.

The report said that every tall ship captain interviewed for the investigation indicated disbelief over the actions of the captain, and stated they never would have left port.

The report said that the captain charted a course “directly in the path and vicinity of Hurricane Sandy, knowing all of the defects in the vessel.”

The HMS Bounty Organization was cited for “failing to provide effective oversight and operating restrictions,” and went on to say that “they were ill-equipped to make such decisions due to their lack of experience with vessel operations.”

“Financial considerations appear to have driven a number of decisions made by the company, sometimes to the detriment of safety,” the Coast Guard said. “The company chose to assign critical jobs like hull caulking and engine maintenance to the crew in an effort to save money.”

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