Shipyard: Rotted frame in sunken ship not fixed

  • Posted: Thursday, February 14, 2013 9:47 a.m.
    UPDATED: Thursday, February 14, 2013 9:55 a.m.
A U.S. Coast Guard photo shows the HMS Bounty, a 180-foot sailboat, submerged in the Atlantic Ocean during Hurricane Sandy approximately 90 miles southeast of Hatteras, N.C., Monday, Oct. 29, 2012. Surviving crew members will testify as a federal safety panel meets Tuesday, Feb. 12, 2013 in Portsmouth, Va. to examine what led to the sinking of the replica 18th-century sailing ship during Hurricane Sandy. One member of the HMS Bounty’s crew died and the captain was never found after the ship sank 90 miles off Cape Hatteras, N.C., during the October storm. (AP PHOTO)
A U.S. Coast Guard photo shows the HMS Bounty, a 180-foot sailboat, submerged in the Atlantic Ocean during Hurricane Sandy approximately 90 miles southeast of Hatteras, N.C., Monday, Oct. 29, 2012. Surviving crew members will testify as a federal safety panel meets Tuesday, Feb. 12, 2013 in Portsmouth, Va. to examine what led to the sinking of the replica 18th-century sailing ship during Hurricane Sandy. One member of the HMS Bounty’s crew died and the captain was never found after the ship sank 90 miles off Cape Hatteras, N.C., during the October storm. (AP PHOTO)

PORTSMOUTH, Va. (AP) A replica 18th-century sailing ship that sank off North Carolina during Hurricane Sandy had a decaying frame with an undetermined amount of rot in it before leaving port, a Maine shipyard worker told federal officials Wednesday.

One member of the HMS Bounty’s 16-person-crew died, and the captain was never found after the ship sank 90 miles off Cape Hatteras during the October storm. The three-mast sailing ship was built for the 1962 film “Mutiny on the Bounty” starring Marlon Brando, and was featured in several other films over the years, including one of the “Pirates of the Caribbean” movies.


Officials from the Coast Guard and the National Transportation Safety Board are holding eight days of hearings to determine what caused it to sink and make recommendations to prevent similar deaths.

Todd Kosakowski told the panel that he showed Capt. Robin Walbridge the rot he found in the ship when his workers were replacing several planks at Boothbay Harbor Shipyard several weeks before the storm.

“I told him that I was more than worried about what we found,” Kosakowski said.

Rather than replacing the rotted wood as Kosakowski said was the only way to fix it the ship’s crew painted it over, he said.

Walbridge was ‘terrified’ at what he saw, but he decided against removing additional planks to see how extensive the damage was and going ahead and replacing it, he said.

“It was very quickly shot down by the captain,” Kosakowski said. “That would have required a significant amount of time and money.”

Kosakowski said he was concerned about the ship’s condition when it left the shipyard and that he had advised Walbridge to avoid ‘heavy weather.’ The ship would later head directly for the path of the hurricane before taking on water, losing power and rolling over as it tossed the crew into the Atlantic Ocean.

After the ship left the Maine shipyard, it headed to New London, Connecticut. There, it provided a tour for Navy sailors stationed at a submarine base. HMS Bounty officials also met with a potential buyer for the ship before it started making its way to Florida and heading directly for the hurricane.

Before leaving Maine, Kosakowski said that Walbridge had told him that he had told the ship’s owner, Robert Hansen, that he should get rid of the boat as soon as possible.

Hansen has declined to testify at the hearings, invoking his Fifth Amendment right to be protected from incriminating himself.

Although the hearing being administered by the panel isn’t a criminal proceeding, any evidence of wrongdoing could be referred to federal prosecutors.

Notice about comments:

Salisburypost.com is pleased to offer readers the ability to comment on stories. We expect our readers to engage in lively, yet civil discourse. Salisburypost.com cannot promise that readers will not occasionally find offensive or inaccurate comments posted in the comments area. Responsibility for the statements posted lies with the person submitting the comment, not Salisburypost.com. If you find a comment that is objectionable, please click "report abuse" and we will review it for possible removal. Please be reminded, however, that in accordance with our Terms of Use and federal law, we are under no obligation to remove any third party comments posted on our website. Full terms and conditions can be read here.

Do not post the following:

  • Potentially libelous statements or damaging innuendo.
  • Obscene, explicit, or racist language.
  • Personal attacks, insults or threats.
  • The use of another person's real name to disguise your identity.
  • Comments unrelated to the story.