The US Coast Guard rescued 14 crewmembers from a replica tall ship that ran into trouble trying to dodge Hurricane Sandy off the North Carolina coast and sank Monday morning.
Two other crewmembers from the 180-foot (55 meters), three-mast tall ship HMS Bounty were missing.
“The vessel started taking on water last night, and started sinking about 4 a.m. this morning,” said Lt. Kevin Sullivan with the North Carolina Sector of the US Coast Guard.
The crewmembers had donned wet suits, apparently in anticipation they might end up in the ocean, he said.
The ship was taking on two feet of water an hour before it sank. The crew launched rubber life rafts, but some people ended up in the water.
“We launched two helicopters, and they arrived on the scene and hoisted a few people out of the water and the rest out of life rafts,” said Sullivan.
A C-130 Hercules aircraft search-and-rescue chopper was on the scene in the hopes of finding the two missing crewmembers, he added, and another chopper was en route to assist in the search.
The survivors were transported to the Coast Guard Air Station in Elizabeth City, North Carolina, where emergency personnel were evaluating their conditions.
ABC News reported the tall ship left Connecticut last week en route to Florida, and tried to go around the storm.
The owner of the ship reported losing contact with the crew late Sunday. A distress signal helped the Coast Guard locate the ship, and an aircraft made radio contact with the crew.
Weather conditions on the scene at the time of the rescue had winds at about 40 knots (46 mph or 74 kph), and seas had swells of roughly 20 feet (6 meters).
“That doesn’t exceed our limits but it’s very hazardous, very dangerous conditions,” said Sullivan.
According to Tall Ships America, the HMS Bounty was built for the 1962 movie Mutiny on the Bounty, starring Marlon Brando, and was also used in the movie Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest.