ELIZABETH CITY, N.C. (WAVY) - Coast Guard Crews from Florida have now joined crews from Elizabeth City and Portsmouth in the search for the missing captain of the HMS Bounty. The ship took on water during Hurricane Sandy and sunk roughly 90 miles off the coast of Hatteras early Monday morning.
The Coast Guard rescued 14 Bounty sailors off life rafts not long after their ship, the Bounty, began sinking during Hurricane Sandy. The Bounty crew was flown to Air Station Elizabeth City where, in addition to their Coast Guard heroes, they were greeted by the American Red Cross.
"They literally had what they were able to leave a sinking boat, which was literally the clothes on their back. So what we've been able to do of course last night, was provide them with food, and shelter, and clothing," American Red Cross spokesman Bill Brent said.
Brent says the crew members were very quiet in their first hours on dry land. In those moments they learned shipmate Claudene Christian died at the hospital and their Captain, Robin Walridge, was missing.
The search for the missing captain continues, the question is, for how long? A Coast Guard spokesman says there is a lot that goes into determining that answer.
"A lot of factors are taken into account when we're talking about survivability. There's information on the environmentals for instance, wind, sea height, the water temperature. There's also more anecdotal information like was he a good swimmer? Did he have survival training? Age, did he get in the appropriate survival equipment? Was he in the water or was he in a life raft for instance? And all of those factors contribute to the survivable determination," said Lt. Michael Patterson.
A spokesperson for the Bounty says the ship was trying to get from Connecticut to Florida and the crew tried to go around the storm, but Hurricane Sandy was too big and too strong.
The search for the captain has not stopped and Lt. Patterson says it could go on all night. He says only one person can make the call to suspend the search and that is Captain Anthony Popiel.
The Coast Guard says they are hopeful they will find Walridge alive, but so far all they have found is a lot of debris. Lt. Patterson says they have also lost sight of the ship, which they presume sunk. If not, Lt. Patterson says the current caused it to drift out of sight.
The Coast Guard is searching 1,300 square miles of water for Walridge.
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