Negligence Sinks the Bounty

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In its many forms, human negligence takes lives and destroys property. A recently released maritime accident report by the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) highlights how recklessness wreaks havoc. 

The NTSB investigation followed the sinking of the tall ship Bounty. With a height of 108 feet, the tall ship was built in 1962 by MGM studies for its movie “Mutiny on the Bounty.” On its last voyage, the wooden vessel set sail from New London, Connecticut, bound for St. Petersburg, Florida. 

The Bounty departed on October 25, 2012. Unwilling to heed the concerns of crew members, the captain of the ship set sail directly into the path of Superstorm Sandy. Findings of the accident report include the following: 

  • Crew members, without the proper training, were assigned to attend to the engine room and make repairs to the rotting hull of the ship. For hull repairs, the captain provided crew with a silicone kitchen sealant not approved for maritime use.
  • The captain assured crew members the ship could handle rough water, telling a local television station the Bounty had “chased hurricanes.”
  • Though he could have maintained a safer course, the captain chose to change the direction of the ship to intersect and outrun Superstorm Sandy.
  • Eventually, the Bounty battled 30-foot waves and high winds.  Water came into the ship. An engine failed and a sail ripped. Crew members fell and broke bones. The chief mate asked the captain to notify the Coast Guard for help. The captain refused.
  • That evening, with electrical failure and four feet of water in the engine room, the captain contacted the Coast Guard and prepared to abandon ship. The ship keeled over near Cape Hatteras, North Carolina. 

A Coast Guard rescue via helicopter saved the lives of all but two. The body of a female crew member was recovered later. The body of the captain was never found. 

The NTSB described the “reckless decision” of the captain as the cause of the accident and noted the organization that owned the vessel did not provide “effective safety oversight.” 

On sea, land or highway, it is negligent to endanger lives and property.

Topics:  Maritime Transport, Negligence, NTSB

Published In: Personal Injury Updates

DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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