Monday, February 25, 2013

Bounty Hearings Begin – Chief Mate Testifies

 Photos of the HMS Bounty replica sinking during Superstorm Sandy Image: USCG

I learned this morning, after reading a message on the Nordhavn Owners Group Forum, that USCG hearings, investigating the sinking of the Replica of HMS Bounty, have begun.

In case you're unfamiliar with this tragedy at sea...

In the wake of Hurricane Sandy, when I first read of Bounty's demise, I puzzled over what the Captain was thinking... obviously others, including his peers, were too.

Cut from
An article By On

With bruising and cuts to his face, broken bones in his hands, chest trauma, a twisted knee, and a dislocated shoulder, John Svendsen swam toward a strobe light.  The tall ship Bounty had just sunk underneath him. It was early in the morning – just after midnight really – of October 29th, last year.   He was likely the last person to see the ship’s captain, Robin Walbridge, alive as both men crawled across the foundering ship.  Several hours (and probably miles) later, Svendsen – the last Chief Mate of Bounty – was pulled from the Atlantic by a Coast Guard MH-60J – lucky to be alive.
This morning he was sitting alone at a desk at the Renaissance Hotel in Portsmouth while Commander Kevin Carroll – the man assigned by the U.S.Coast Guard to investigate the incident – engaged him in hours of Q & A.  Today’s testimony – that included the details above – ended at about 4:00 PM Eastern.  By the time I drove home from the hearing, local reporters had already misrepresented Svendsen’s testimony.
to date. After reading most of it, one thing Mr. Vittone wrote about Captain Walbridge's decision to leave port and take Bounty to sea in a deadly storm sticks out.
He had faced down storms before and won, he had tangled with hurricanes and made it home, his experience was that if he headed into harm’s way, he would get away with it. He had clearly confused the lack of failure with success, and may have begun to truly believe his own advice. Maybe it was something else, I don’t know. Robin Walbridge, the last captain of Bounty, isn’t here to ask.


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