The Coast Guard is searching for two people off the coast of North Carolina who had been passengers aboard the tall ship HMS Bounty, which lost power Monday in Hurricane Sandy and sank after 14 other passengers were rescued.
The Coast Guard said that a C-130 Hercules aircraft and a MH-60 Jayhawk helicopter are still scouring the waters for the two missing people who somehow did not get airlifted from their life rafts about 90 miles off Hatteras on the Outer Banks. As of late Monday morning, the Coast Guard had not completed its interviews with the 14 survivors, and had not identified the missing people.
The Coast Guard also said it has not determined why the missing people were not among those initially rescued.
The HMS Bounty, a three-masted sailing ship that has appeared in two Hollywood movies, was reportedly sailing from Connecticut to St. Petersburg, Fla., when it began taking on too much water and lost propulsion.
The HMS Bounty Organization, which owns the ship, alerted the Coast Guard early Monday morning that it lost radio contact with its vessel Sunday night, according to the Coast Guard. After receiving the call from the owner, the Coast Guard’s 5th District command center in Portsmouth, Va., then received a distress signal from the HMS Bounty, indicating its position.
The Coast Guard dispatched two Jayhawk helicopters to the scene, where passengers had already abandoned the ship and boarded 25-foot life rafts. The Coast Guard said the passengers wore cold-water survival suits and life jackets and that the lifeboats had canopies.
In general, Coast Guard rescue helicopters lower baskets into the water and deploy rescue swimmers who help passengers climb into the baskets.
"With 40 mile-per-hour winds, 18-foot seas, waves and swells, and a mile of visibility, those are absolutely challenging circumstances to conduct this kind of hoist operation," said Lt. Mike Patterson, a Coast Guard spokesman. "That’s a testimony to what our folks do."
The HMS Bounty Organization could not be reached for comment. Its website said the ship was built for the 1962 film "Mutiny on the Bounty," which starred Marlon Brando. The ship was also used in the 2006 film "Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest."