Sunday, December 29, 2013

BEST OF 2013: HMS Bounty Hearings Continue: Nightmare at Sea

Bounty Hearings: Nightmare at Sea
Doug Mills
Maritime Editor
RCN America Network

Scheduled to tesitfy on Feb. 18:

Matthew Sanders - Second mate of Bounty
Christopher Barksdale - Engineer of Bounty
Douglas Faunt - Deckhand/radio officer of Bounty

Matthew Sanders
A lot of time was spent questioning about the pumps and generators in great detail.  Matt Sanders the Second Mate spent Sunday night in the engine room keeping the pumps going.  During that last night the generator kept cutting out.  He struggled , replacing fuel filters and just trying to keep the generator and the pumps working through the as the water continued to rise.  The water finally reached the starboard generator and shorted it out.  Working in now waist deep water he attempted start the port generator.  After 1-2 hours, it was hard to keep track of time under those conditions, of changing fuel filters and bleeding the system he was able to get it running and restore power for the pumps and the radio.  It ran for about 3 hours before it to was overcome by the ever rising water.
Douglas Faunt
At this time the engine room had to be abandoned due to the height of the water and the shorting electrical equipment!  Preparations were being made to abandon ship.
All hands were brought up on deck and as they were moving to a position on the stern the bow went under and the Bounty was struck by a wave that rolled her onto her side.  In a nightmare of debris, rigging, wind and waves all hands were thrown overboard.  This was the last time that Captain Robin was seen being thrown back and forth on the deck.
Matt found himself in the water being forced under several times by the masts and rigging.  He was able to swim free away from the dangers of the pitching boat.  He spotted an life raft and managed to swim to it.  Still not safe as he could not get himself into the raft!  Some other crew members were able to enter from the other side and eventually did pull him in.  Than they waited for the morning.

Christopher Barksdale
Testimony from Bounty’s engineer, Christopher Barksdale stated that he had ordered replacement fuel filters when they left Boothbay to be delivered in New London.  When they were delivered they delivered the wrong filters.  It is not known if this affected the operation of the boat.  They did have a lot of problems with fuel filters during the height of the storm.

We may never know what caused that tragedy.
Captain Robin Walbridge overseeing Bounty's relaunch just 10 days before she went down.

One thing that seems abundantly clear was that this was an exceptional professional crew.

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