HMS Bounty hearings have now concluded

Posted at 4:42 PM, Feb 21, 2013
and last updated 2013-02-21 16:42:36-05

In two weeks, crew members and experts testified the Bounty left New London, Conn., with faulty bilge pumps and without a clear idea of how big the storm was or where it was going.

The hull was sealed with hardware-store products, not marine-grade sealants. When the ship began taking on water, the bilge pumps all malfunctioned or did not work at all.

The rescue of the Bounty crew was delayed because all other ships avoided the area to keep clear of Sandy. In short, no ships were close enough to help.

The Coast Guard investigator said he contacted several experts (including many who testified), but no one would agree with the Bounty’s often-repeated statement that “a ship is safer at sea than in port.”

The Bounty’s captain, Robin Walbridge, died, as did crew member Claudene Christian. The rest of the crew was rescued, and most testified.

From here, the Coast Guard panel will complete and publish a report detailing their findings. Its main purpose is to dissect the tragedy to see if there needs to be changes in marine policy or rules. However, the Coast Guard can also point out neglect or incompetence. It will not find any criminal fault. A report could be months, or even a year, away.

The Department of Justice will review the findings and could prosecute. From the testimony, it is clear the person most at question is the captain, who perished. The NTSB will offer a separate report. A NTSB investigator sat in on the hearings.


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