Wednesday, May 15, 2013

The Ship That Sailed into the Huricane: HMS Bounty

Why would an experienced captain of the HMS Bounty sail into the worst storm of the century?  Were there structural problems aboard the 50 year old ship?  Why put the ship and it's crew to sea when ports were available to weather out the storm?  Here is an excerpt from an article that delves into these questions and more:
The AIS records of the Atlantic during those hours are chilling: a sparsely dotted screen of vessels all making their way to port. Simonin attempted to counter growing vitriol online by reminding mariners of the adage that a ship is safer at sea than at port, but that idea was quickly denounced by other captains. Navy vessels and tankers may go to sea, they responded, but only in the interest of national security or averting major environmental disasters. Did Simonin think either applied to the Bounty? She didn’t reply.
At 7:30 p.m. on the 27th, Simonin received Walbridge’s scheduled email update. He told her that his new plan was to “keep trying to go fast and squeeze by the storm and land as fast as we can.” All else, he wrote, “is well.”
On board the Bounty, the ship’s cook, Jessica Black, was no longer able to prepare meals. She and Christian handed out sandwiches and cold hot dogs.
Barksdale was the first to sustain a significant injury, careening into the side of the vessel, jamming his right hand and rendering it all but unusable. Hours later he was thrown against a metal worktable in the engine room. He sustained a severe gash on his arm and was certain that he’d broken his leg.
Sometime on Sunday the 28th, Prokosh, a bearded, tattooed 27-year-old, was thrown across the tween decks, dislocating his shoulder and breaking several ribs. Christian found a mattress, tacoed Prokosh inside it, and wedged him against the vessel’s starboard side. “Claudene was mothering him,” says Barksdale, “stopping by while she was running around doing her duties to make sure he was comfortable.”
Later that day, Barksdale and Walbridge were in the great cabin in the vessel’s stern when the Bounty hit a large wave. The captain’s lower back struck a bolted-down table, and he crumpled to the floor in pain. With Barksdale’s assistance, Walbridge was able to stand, but for the rest of the voyage he was nearly incapacitated, unable to get around without help.

Read the whole article and the comments here.

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