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US Coast Guard suspends search for missing HMS Bounty captain, launches investigation


The ship tried to avoid Sandy, but the storm proved to be too strong.(courtesy: Amanda Mackinnon)
The ship tried to avoid Sandy, but the storm proved to be too strong.(courtesy: Amanda Mackinnon)

Staff writers

November 2, 2012 — The U.S. Coast Guard announced Friday it would investigate the sinking of the HMS Bounty. The search for ship's missing captain was called off Thursday.

The U.S. Coast Guard says it will investigate the sinking of the HMS Bounty, the day after suspending the search for the ship's still-missing captain.

The coast guard says such investigations often take months to complete, and is not intended to establish criminal or civil responsibility.

On Monday, strong winds and rain from Sandy caused the HMS Bounty, a Canadian-built 19th century sailing replica, to take on water off the North Carolina coast, forcing the crew to abandon ship.

Fourteen crew members were rescued by helicopter but the ship's 63-year-old captain, Robin Walbridge, was reported missing.

Walbridge was one of three who were swept overboard. One managed to reach a lifeboat, and was among those rescued.

Another, 42-year-old Claudine Christian, was recovered, but was unresponsive and later died.

After covering 12,000 overlapping square nautical miles over 90 hours with air crews from Florida, North Carolina and Miami, the Coast Guard announced Thursday it would be suspending its rescue search.

“Our thoughts and prayers are with the Walbridge and Christian families," said Capt. Doug Cameron, the chief of incident response for the Coast Guard 5th District, in a statement.

"Suspending a search and rescue case is one of the hardest decisions we have to make.”

A spokesperson for the HMS Bounty says the ship tried to avoid Sandy, but the storm proved to be too strong.

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