On Thursday, 25 October 2012, the HMS Bounty left New London, Connecticut, despite warnings of an approaching “Frankenstorm”.
It was midnight on Sunday, 28 October, when Coast Guard pilot Wes McIntosh established radio contact with HMS Bounty. The three-masted, square-rigged ship was 160 kilometres off the tip of Cape Hatteras, North Carolina, right in the heart of the churning grey pinwheel of Hurricane Sandy.
McIntosh and his six-member crew were in their C-130 Hercules search plane on their way to the Bounty. They were still 100 kilometres away when McIntosh got the first update from the foundering ship: two metres of water had pooled in the belly of the boat, and the Bounty was flooding at the rate of 30 centimetres an hour. The generators had failed, which meant the pumps were inoperable. The engines had shut down, too.
At about 4:30 am the Bounty heeled hard to starboard, throwing crew members into the stormy waters. The C-130’s radio revealed that the group had abandoned ship. Most found their way to the two life rafts.
Two Jayhawk helicopters then arrived on the scene. Coast Guard swimmers dropped into the water managed to pluck 14 survivors from the site. Later in the day a Jayhawk crew member recovered a body. The last sailor is still lost at sea.
Watch the dramatic rescue of the Bounty crew members…
Read an in-depth account of the Bounty’s last voyage in PM’s Mar ’13 issue – on sale 25 February.