Bounty (1960 ship)

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Bounty on Lake Michigan off Chicago, 2010
Bounty on Lake Michigan off Chicago, 2010
Owner: HMS Bounty Organization LLC
Launched: 1960
Homeport: Greenport, Suffolk County, New York, United States
Fate: Sunk off the coast of North Carolina during Hurricane Sandy on 29 October 2012[1]
General characteristics
  • 180 ft (54.9 m) sparred
  • 120 ft (37 m) on deck
Beam: 31.6 ft (9.6 m)
Height: 111 ft (33.8 m)
Draft: 13 ft (4.0 m)
Depth: 21.3 ft (6.5 m)
Installed power: 2 × John Deere 375 hp (280 kW) diesel engines
Sail plan:
Crew: 12–14

Bounty was an enlarged reconstruction of the original 1787 Royal Navy sailing ship HMS Bounty. Built in Lunenburg, Nova Scotia in 1960, she sank off the coast of North Carolina during Hurricane Sandy on 29 October 2012.

The tall ship was often referred to as HMS Bounty, but was not entitled to the use of the prefix "HMS" as it was not commissioned into the Royal Navy. Here "HMS" is treated as part of the popular name, and not as a ship prefix.



Bounty was commissioned by the Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer film studio for the 1962 film Mutiny on the Bounty. She was the first large vessel built from scratch for a film using historical sources. Previous film vessels were fanciful conversions of existing vessels. Bounty was built to the original ship's drawings from files in the British Admiralty archives, and in the traditional manner by more than 200 workers over an 8-month period at the Smith and Rhuland shipyard in Lunenburg, Nova Scotia.[2] To assist film-making and carry production staff, her waterline length was increased from the original 86 to 120 feet (26.2 to 36.6 m) and the beam was also increased.[FN 1] Rigging was scaled up to match. While built for film use, she was fully equipped for sailing because of the requirement to move her a great distance to the filming location.[2] Her construction helped inspire other large sailing replicas such as Bluenose II and HMS Rose.[3]

Bounty was launched on 27 August 1960. Crewed by Lunenburg fishermen and film staff, the vessel sailed via the Panama Canal to Tahiti for filming. Bounty was scheduled to be burned at the end of the film, but actor Marlon Brando protested, so MGM kept the vessel.[4] After filming and a worldwide promotional tour, the ship was berthed in St. Petersburg, Florida as a permanent tourist attraction, where she stayed until the mid-1980s.

The ship was featured in the 1983 film, Yellowbeard, a comedy about pirates starring Graham Chapman, Peter Boyle and many other comedic stars, including Marty Feldman in his final role before suffering a heart attack during production.

In 1986 Ted Turner acquired the MGM film library and Bounty with it. The ship was used for promotion and entertainment, and was used during the filming of Treasure Island with Charlton Heston and Christian Bale in 1989.

Fall River, Massachusetts

In 1993, Turner donated the ship to the Fall River Chamber Foundation, Inc, which established the Tall Ship Bounty Foundation, Inc to operate the ship for educational "adventures" as well as a tourist attraction and celebrity promoter of Fall River.

Bounty summered in New England waters operating out of the Heritage State Park facilities in Fall River, MA and wintered in Florida operating out of the St. Petersburg Pier.

The ship was booked to appear in several feature films in the mid-90s, such as a remake of the 1935 film Captain Blood, starring Errol Flynn, and a film about Anne Bonny, an 18th-century female pirate. Both projects were shelved before production began. The ship was set to appear in the 1997 Steven Spielberg film Amistad, but before her scenes were shot in Newport, Rhode Island, filming of the slave ship rebellion at the beginning of the film was moved to Puerto Rico and California. However, the ship did appear in several documentaries during her eight-year stay in Fall River.

In the mid-1990s, Marlon Brando, star of the 1962 version of Mutiny on the Bounty, showed interest in using the ship for a project in the area of his island in the South Pacific. However, he was surprised at what it cost to operate a ship with a crew on a weekly basis, and he passed on the idea.

While under ownership of the Tall Ship Bounty Foundation, the ship went into dry-dock twice and had major improvements to the ships ribs and planks. During the second dry docking, Captain Robin Walbridge decided to permanently remove the copper cladding and in its place used a marine paint that had been developed to repel the insects that bore into the wood. Due to lack of commitment to long term funding by the private and public sectors, the trustees of the Tall Ship Bounty Foundation, Inc. determined it was time to put the ship up for sale. Due to cash flow problems all the crew were terminated and a couple of loyal volunteers kept a watch on the Bounty at its dock at Heritage State Park. Over the course of the fall and winter the ship was battered against the dock, which punctured some holes in the hull just above the waterline. On one evening the rough weather and holes caused the ship to take on a considerable amount of water. The Coast Guard and Fall River Fire Department were called, and they pumped out the ship and restored temporary stability. On March 15, 2001, the ship was sold to the HMS Bounty Foundation.

In 2005, while moored in St. Petersburg, Bounty was the shooting location of the "pornographic action-adventure" film Pirates.


The ship's poor condition caused the vessel to temporarily lose her Coast Guard license,[citation needed] but Bounty was restored. The vessel's bottom planking was restored at the Boothbay Harbor Shipyard in 2002. Moored in her winter home in St. Petersburg, Florida, she again became available for charter, excursions, sail-training, and movies, including Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest, Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End, and The SpongeBob SquarePants Movie[5] In April 2006, Bounty again arrived in Boothbay Harbor for further renovation including refurbishing the ship's bow and topside decking. Following this renovation, Bounty was scheduled to repeat the famous voyage of the original Bounty.[6]

It was during the 2006 renovation that the ship was virtually refitted from a sailing museum and replica of the original HMS Bounty to a sailing school vessel. Its lower decks were gutted of most of its 18th century style furnishings and living spaces, including those in Captain Bligh's quarters, the stove in the ship's galley, and the officers' quarters. The color of the ship's hull was changed from ocean-blue to black and dark green. The ship's appearance in such films as Marlon Brando's Mutiny on the Bounty, Yellowbeard, Charlton Heston's Treasure Island, The SpongeBob SquarePants Movie and the Pirates of the Caribbean films therefore bore little resemblance to the way it looked after 2006.

Post-restoration, thieves, and sale attempt

In August 2007, Bounty had just completed a US $3 million restoration and was making a seven-week UK tour prior to embarking on a world tour via South Africa and New Zealand to Pitcairn (home to the original Bounty descendants) and Tahiti. The UK ports tour included a visit to Maryport, Cumbria, the birthplace of mutiny leader Fletcher Christian. On Saturday 12 September 2009, the ship was berthed at Custom House Quay in Greenock, Inverclyde, Scotland. At about 04:10 BST thieves targeted the ship and stole a small sum of cash, several items of clothing with Bounty's insignia, a survival suit, a book, a life ring and an American flag. The items were later recovered nearby.[7]

Bounty's owners had tried, unsuccessfully, to sell the vessel since 2010.[8] The ship was for sale as of 2012 for US$4.6 million.[8] In winter of 2012, the ship was stationed in San Juan, Puerto Rico. She took part in OpSail 2012 and, in July 2012, was in Halifax, Nova Scotia. On 12 August she was docked at Belfast, Maine near Heritage Park. On 3 September, Bounty sailed off the dock from Gloucester, Massachusetts to Eastport, Maine. After a stop at Maine Maritime Academy in Castine, she pulled into Boothbay Harbor for dry dock and maintenance. She was launched from the Boothbay Harbor Shipyard on 17 October 2012. Bounty left Boothbay bound for New York early 21 October 2012.[9][10]


Bounty awash in the Atlantic Ocean during Hurricane Sandy approximately 90 miles southeast of Hatteras, N.C., 29 Oct. 2012.

On 25 October 2012, the vessel left New London, Connecticut, heading for St. Petersburg, Florida, initially going on an easterly course to avoid Hurricane Sandy.[11] At about 8:45 pm EDT, the U.S. Coast Guard received an email from Tracie Simonin, director of the HMS Bounty Organization.[12] This information was sent to a Coast Guard C-130 rescue airplane crew that was stationed in North Carolina at Raleigh-Durham Airport.[12] The ship's location was given as roughly 90 miles southeast of the Outer Banks in the vicinity of Hatteras Canyon.[12]

The C-130 rescue plane underwent equipment outages on its rescue flight, including its anti-icing system and its weather radar.[12] This caused the pilot (Lieutenant Wes McIntosh) and the co-pilot (Mike Myers) to conduct the search at approximately 500 ft AMSL in an attempt to locate the vessel visually, around midnight and with poor visibility.[12] Shortly after midnight on the 29th, the stricken vessel was discovered. After repeated questions from the pilot inquiring what he saw, Myers initial report to the pilot was, "I see a giant pirate ship in the middle of a hurricane."[12]

The initial distress call by email had been the result of multiple communication system failures on board the Bounty. With satellite phone and Maritime Mobile Net nonfunctional, ship's master Robin Walbridge had used Winlink on shortwave to send emails[13][14] to Simonin, the director. Walbridge had reported the ship was taking on water, and the crew was preparing to abandon ship. There were sixteen people aboard.[15][16] Bounty's last reported position was Lua error in Module:Coordinates at line 668: callParserFunction: function "#coordinates" was not found..[17]

The pilot McIntosh made radio contact with John Svendsen, the Bounty's first mate, as the C-130 circled the ship in the early morning hours.[12] Bounty was listing at about a 45 degree angle on its starboard side. As the C-130 crew radioed instructions to the Bounty, the plane circled for hours while preparations were made. Meanwhile, helicopter crews from Elizabeth City were instructed to prepare for a very difficult rescue operation. At 4:45 am, Svendsen radioed to the C-130 that the Bounty was sinking and the crew needed immediate assistance.[12] McIntosh flew the plane lower and readied his crew to drop life rafts and supplies. With the plane short on fuel, the C-130 dropped the liferafts but left the Bounty and crew on their own in rough seas and 50 knot winds. It would be more than an hour until the first Jayhawk helicopter arrived on the scene to begin the dangerous rescue attempt around dawn.[12] One member of the Coast Guard crew received major injuries during the rescue.[12]

Vice Admiral Parker, USCG,[18] reported the ship had sunk and fourteen people had been rescued from liferafts by two rescue helicopters. The storm had washed the captain and two crew overboard—one of the latter had made it to a liferaft, but the other two were missing. They wore orange survival suits complete with strobe lights, thus rescuers had some hope of finding them alive. Claudene Christian, one of the two missing crew members and who claimed to be related to HMS Bounty mutineer Fletcher Christian,[19] was found by the Coast Guard. She was unresponsive, and later pronounced dead at a hospital.[1][20][21][22]

The other missing crew member was long-time captain Robin Walbridge.[23] Raised in Montpelier, Vermont, Walbridge later moved to St. Petersburg, Florida. He was a field mechanic on houseboats who worked his way up to obtaining a 1600-ton license in 1995, when he began working as a Bounty crew member.[24] Search efforts for Walbridge continued over an area of 12,000 square nautical miles until they were suspended on 1 November 2012.[25]

A formal investigation into the sinking was ordered by USCG Rear Admiral Steven Ratti on 2 November 2012.[26] An inquiry into the sinking was held in Portsmouth, Virginia from 12 to 21 February 2013;[27] at which it was concluded that Captain Walbridge's decision to sail the ship into the path of Hurricane Sandy was the cause, and the inquiry found this to have been a "reckless decision".[28] [29] The loss of the ship prompted the USCG to conduct a review of the rules and regulations regarding tall ships.[30]


Bounty in Belfast Lough 
Bounty's crew in Greenock, Scotland 
Bounty off Greenock 
The Coast Guard rescue of Bounty's crew 

See also


  1. The extended length increased 40% from 86 to 120 feet (26.2 to 36.6 m), while the ship's beam was widened 23% as 24.3 to 30 feet (7.4 to 9.1 m).


  1. 1.0 1.1 "HMS Bounty Sinks Off NC Coast, 14 People Rescued, Two Possibly Missing". WITN-TV. Retrieved 2012-10-29.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  2. 2.0 2.1 After the Cameras Stopped Rolling; The Journey of the Bounty. Warner Home Entertainment 2006
  3. Gilkerson, William, "Replicas: History of a Phenomenon", Wooden Boat, No. 172, May/June 2003, p.67-68.
  4. Background Story
  5. "Brando's Bounty's Sailing In". Bristol Evening Post. 5 July 2007. p. 6.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  6. Hoey, Dennis (2 May 2006). "This project would make Brando smile; The Bounty of movie fame in Maine for repairs". Portland Press Herald. p. B1.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  7. "'Pirates' ship looted in Scotland". BBC News. 14 September 2009. Retrieved 2012-10-29.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  8. 8.0 8.1 "HMS Bounty, Replica". Retrieved 2012-10-29.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  9. Bell, L. Jaye (1 November 2012). "Musings on the HMS Bounty". The Coastal Journal. Retrieved 2012-12-31.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  10. "HMS Bounty launched at Boothbay Harbor Shipyard". 22 October 2012. Retrieved 2012-10-29.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  11. Morgenstein, Mark (29 October 2012). "Sandy claims 'Bounty' off North Carolina". CNN. Retrieved 2012-10-29.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  12. 12.0 12.1 12.2 12.3 12.4 12.5 12.6 12.7 12.8 12.9 Sunk: The Incredible Truth About a Ship That Never Should Have Sailed, Kathryn Miles, Feb 11, 2013, Outside Online.
  13. "Robin Walbridge, KD4OHZ, Missing at Sea after Sinking of Tall Ship Bounty; Ship's Electrician Doug Faunt, N6TQS, Rescued". American radio relay league. 1 November 2012. Retrieved 2012-11-27.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  14. "Captain Robin Walbridge, KD4OHZ, Sends Winlink Message -- Saves 14 Crew of HMS Bounty". WinLink 2000. Retrieved 2012-11-27.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  15. Morgenstein, Mark (29 October 2012). "Two crew missing from movie ship in Sandy". CNN. Retrieved 2012-10-29.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  16. "14 rescued, 2 missing from HMS Bounty off N.C. coast". NBC News. 29 October 2012. Retrieved 2012-10-29.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  17. "HMS Bounty (1960) Last Position". Retrieved 2012-10-30.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  18. "Vice Admiral Robert C. Parker, USCG". Retrieved 2012-10-29.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  19. Jonsson, Patrik (30 October 2012). "HMS Bounty casualty claimed tie to mutinous Fletcher Christian". Retrieved 2012-10-31.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  20. Morgenstein, Mark (30 October 2012). "Famed ship sinks off North Carolina; two crew missing". CNN. Retrieved 2012-10-29.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  21. "Hurricane Sandy: HMS Bounty Crew Rescued Off NC". Good Morning America. 29 October 2012. Retrieved 2012-10-29.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  22. "Bounty crew member's body found, captain still missing". Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. 29 October 2012. Retrieved 2012-10-29.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  23. "Coast Guard continues search for missing captain of HMS Bounty" (Press release). United States Coast Guard. Retrieved 2012-10-30.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  24. "Biography – Captain Robin Walbridge". Retrieved 2012-10-30.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  25. "Coast Guard suspends search for missing captain of HMS Bounty" (Press release). United States Coast Guard. 1 November 2012. Retrieved 2012-11-01.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  26. Ware, Beverley (3 November 2012). "Bounty crew to testify at inquiry into sinking". The Chronicle Herald. Retrieved 2012-11-04.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  27. "US Coast Guard Media Advisory, January 10, 2013". US Coast Guard Newsrom. U.S. Department of Homeland Security. Retrieved 31 January 2015.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  28. "Sinking of Tall Ship Bounty". Marine Accident Brief. National Transportation Safety Board. 6 February 2014. Retrieved 11 February 2014.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  29. Patterson, Thom (13 June 2014). "Coast Guard blames management, captain for sinking of HMS Bounty". CNN. Retrieved 2014-06-20.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  30. Jeffery, Davene (11 June 2014). "Bounty sinking sparks U.S. review". The Chronicle Herald. Retrieved 2014-06-12.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>

Further reading

  • Freeman, Gregory A. (2013). The Gathering Wind: Hurricane Sandy, the Sailing Ship Bounty, and a Courageous Rescue at Sea. New York: NAL Caliber. ISBN 978-0-451-46576-4.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  • Schaer, Robin Beth (2 November 2012). "Falling Overboard". The Paris Review Daily: First Person. Retrieved 9 November 2012.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  • Tougias, Michael J.; Campbell, Douglas A. (2014). Rescue of the Bounty: Disaster and Survival in Superstorm Sandy. New York: Scribner. ISBN 978-1-4767-4663-0.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>

External links