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A Lost Bounty

Hello readers, and welcome back to the Library blog. Close to two weeks ago, Hurricane Sandy hit the eastern seaboard of the United States, impacting our lives from the Carolinas to Boston. While each person lost during this disaster is keenly felt, perhaps no single story is more relevant to maritime history than the tragic loss of the HMS Bounty and two of her crew. For the families of Claudene Christian and Robin Walbridge, our thoughts and prayers are with you.

The HMS Bounty, circa 1967. From The Mariners’ Museum Library collection.

What makes the HMS Bounty so special is that she was created out of period-correct materials, with the same tools they would have had back then and with the original building plans from the first HMS Bounty. The modern ship was not just a replica: it was an authentic rebuilding of the same ship, right down to the hand-bend nails in her keel. Constructed for the 1962 movie “Mutiny on the Bounty,” the tall ship HMS Bounty has since served in many motion pictures and as a unique piece of living history for the coastal cities of Britain, Europe and the United States.

While the chain of events that lead to her sinking are under investigation, it appears that she took on too much water after she lost power for her bilge pumps. She went down some distance off of Cape Hatteras, commonly known as the Graveyard of the Atlantic due to its high concentration of shipwrecks and treacherous maritime conditions. The same waters that once claimed the USS Monitor in 1862 have now taken the HMS Bounty as well.

The HMS Bounty‘s last moments. Picture taken by the Coast Guard.

In the wake of this loss, one might ask why the HMS Bounty’s crew chose to sail through the hurricane instead of sailing in a different direction or staying in port. Although the matter is still under investigation, it seems that at the time of their departure from Connecticut Hurricane Sandy was not nearly as developed as she was when the ship reached Cape Hatteras. While some have argued that they should have remained in port, the crew believed that had they done so, the HMS Bounty would have almost certainly been damaged or even destroyed. The crew chose to try and save the ship by sailing it around the hurricane, and when the hurricane grew in size and strength they were already too far along to divert course. The brave crew members of the HMS Bounty risked their lives to save their ship, their home, and a great piece of living history. Although the ship was lost in the end, we shall always remember the courage, the sacrifice, and the legacy of the salwart HMS Bounty and her crew.

For more information on the HMS Bounty, click HERE.

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