Update: Search for Missing HMS Bounty Captain Suspended, USCG to Launch Investigation Into Ship's Sinking
The Coast Guard suspended its search Thursday for the missing captain of the HMS Bounty 200 miles southeast of Hatteras, N.C.
Missing is Robin Walbridge, 63.
“Our thoughts and prayers are with the Walbridge and Christian families," said Capt. Doug Cameron, the chief of incident response for the Coast Guard 5th District. ”Suspending a search and rescue case is one of the hardest decisions we have to make.”
The following Coast Guard assets assisted in the search:
- HC-130 Hercules aircrews from Elizabeth City, N.C. and Clearwater, Fla.
- MH-60 Jayhawk crews from Air Station Elizabeth City
- Coast Guard HC-144 Ocean Sentry crews from Miami, Fla.
- Crew aboard the Coast Guard Cutter Elm, a 225-foot buoy tender homeported in Atlantic Beach, N.C.
- Crew aboard the Coast Guard Cutter Gallatin, a 378-foot high-endurance cutter homeported in Charleston, S.C.
Coast Guard crews searched more than 90 hours, covering approximately 12,000 overlapping square nautical miles in the Atlantic Ocean since the Bounty's crew abandoned ship Monday morning.
Rear Adm. Steven Ratti, the Coast Guard 5th District commander, ordered a district formal investigation Thursday to determine the cause of the sinking of the Tall Ship Bounty, a three-masted sailing ship, 90 miles southeast of Hatteras, N.C., Monday, which resulted in the death of one crewmember, and one crewmember who remains missing.
A district formal investigation consists of a Coast Guard investigating officer who will receive evidence and testimony using formal rules and procedures and is convened when the information to be derived has considerable regional significance, or may indicate vessel class problems or areas of technical importance.
The district formal investigation will probe every aspect of the accident and will determine as closely as possible:
- the cause of the accident;
- whether there is evidence that any failure of material or equipment was involved or contributed to the casualty;
- whether there is evidence that any act of misconduct, inattention to duty, negligence, or willful violation of the law on the part of any licensed or certificated person contributed to the casualty;
- whether there is evidence that any Coast Guard or other government agency personnel caused or contributed to the casualty; and
- whether the accident should be further investigated by a Marine Board of Investigation.
The Investigating Officer, Cmdr. Kevin M. Carroll, is the chief of the Coast Guard 5th District Marine Inspections and Investigations Branch and will be assisted by investigating officers from Coast Guard Sector North Carolina in Wilmington, N.C.
Coast Guard investigations of marine casualties and accidents are for the purpose of taking appropriate measures for promoting safety of life and property and are not intended to fix civil or criminal responsibility.
A district formal investigation often takes several months to properly complete.