Bounty crewmember said he didn't question captain's decision


by 13News

Posted on February 18, 2013 at 2:34 PM

Updated Tuesday, Feb 19 at 8:41 AM

PORTSMOUTH - The crew of HMS Bounty knew they were heading into stormy seas, but they didn't believe they'd lose two of their own in the October, 2012 storm.

During testimony Monday before the Coast Guard and National Transportation Safety Board in Portsmouth, 2nd Mate Matthew Sanders said he did not question Capt. Robin Walbridge's decisions, even the one to cut in front of Hurricane Sandy.

The 63-year-old Walbridge and 42-year-old Claudene Christian died when the tall ship sank off Hatteras, N.C.

Coast Guard crews searched more than 90 hours to find them.  14 crewmembers were rescued.

Testimony last week has shown the ship's captain decided to sail directly into the storm knowing the Bounty had a rotted frame.

The engineer onboard the Bounty testified that the crew fought hard to save the ship.

"We were going to try and do a controlled descent into the life rafts. before we had time to do it, the ship heaved all the way over, probably 90 degrees. and at that point in time, you didn't have a choice, you were in the water," said Christopher Barksdale.

The replica of the 18th century ship was built for the 1962 film "Mutiny on the Bounty" and appeared in other movies including the Pirates of the Caribbean.

The hearings, which began Feb. 12, are scheduled to run through February 21.

-Feb. 12 - HMS Bounty Organization LLC.
•Feb. 13 - Coast Guard, Tall Ships America, Boothbay Harbor Shipyard
•Feb. 14 - Surveyor for Bounty, Coast Guard Sector Northern New England
•Feb. 15 - Bounty crewmembers
•Feb. 18 - Bounty crewmembers
•Feb. 19 - Bounty crewmembers via telephone
•Feb. 20 - Bounty crewmembers, Tall Ship Picton Castle, Tall Ship Pride of Baltimore II via telephone
•Feb. 21 - Coast Guard Marine Safety Center, Coast Guard Sector North Carolina