Portsmouth, Va. — The Coast Guard suspended its search Thursday for the missing captain of the HMS Bounty, a replica of an 18th century tall ship that sunk Monday southeast of Cape Hatteras as Hurricane Sandy advanced up the East Coast.
Search crews spent more than 90 hours covering approximately 12,000 nautical miles in the Atlantic Ocean since the ship started taking on water Monday morning, but were unable to find Robin Walbridge, 63.
“Our thoughts and prayers are with the Walbridge and Christian families," said Capt. Doug Cameron, the chief of incident response for the Coast Guard 5th District. ”Suspending a search and rescue case is one of the hardest decisions we have to make.”
As recently as Thursday morning, rescue crews called the search active and said it was not a recovery effort.
On Sunday evening, the Bounty's crew sent word that there was an electrical problem on board. Walbridge said the situation was under control and could wait until morning. The Coast Guard was notified and stayed in contact with the ship through the night.
But by early Monday, the Bounty was taking on water and its engines had failed. Around 4:30 a.m., the HMS Bounty Organization said, Walbridge ordered his crew to don survival suits and life preservers and abandon ship.
The Coast Guard rescued 14 crew members by hoisting them on to Jayhawk helicopters. Another crew member, Claudene Christian, 42, died.