ELIZABETH CITY, N.C.-- More than two dozen Coast Guard rescue personnel were honored for their role in the rescue of 14 people in the sinking of HMS Bounty during Hurricane Sandy last October.
Coast Guard rescuers flew directly into the 1,000-mile-wide Category One storm in the early morning hours of October 29th, after the vintage wooden sailing ship took on too much water, its pumps failed, the vessel listed 90 degrees, and the crew had to abandon ship.
Bounty Captain Robin Wallbridge and one of the ship’s mates died, but the Elizabeth City Coast Guard Station team managed to save 14 other crew members.
In all, 25 Coast Guard team members received various medals Wednesday. Rear Admiral Steven Ratti, commander of the Fifth Coast Guard District, presented the Distinguished Flying Cross to two rescue swimmers, Petty Officer 2nd Class Randy Haba and Petty Officer 3rd Class Daniel Todd.
Sandy was the deadliest storm to hit the Mid Atlantic in forty years, killing 72 people. That was the most deaths since Hurricane Agnes in 1972.
Sandy was the second costliest storm in U.S. history, at $50 billion, second only to Hurricane Katrina in 2005. 650,000 homes were damaged and eight million were left without power.
The Elizabeth City crew braved 30 foot seas and 90 mile and hour winds during their rescue mission.
“I was surprised to hear that there was vessel out there, but I knew that our people were prepared to go out and rescue them and they just went out and did an amazing job,” said Ratti.
Ratti said it would be at least three months, perhaps longer, before the Coast Guard and the National Transportation Safety Board release the findings of their investigation into the cause of the Bounty sinking.