Coast Guard starts hearings on Bounty sinking

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The Coast Guard begins formal hearings today into the sinking of the Bounty at the Renaissance Portsmouth Hotel and Waterfront Conference Center in Portsmouth, Va.

The hearings, scheduled from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. on weekdays, will run through Feb. 21.

The investigation will examine the facts and circumstances of the sinking and offer conclusions and recommendations to improve the safety and operations of other tall ships.

The National Transportation Safety Board also is involved and will recommend issues to explore, identify and examine witnesses and submit or request evidence.

The tentative schedule is:

Today: HMS Bounty Organization LLC

Wednesday: Coast Guard, Tall Ships America, Boothbay Harbor Shipyard

Thursday: Surveyor for Bounty, Coast Guard Sector Northern New England

Friday: Bounty crewmembers

Monday: Bounty crewmembers

Feb. 19: Bounty crewmembers (telephone interviews)

Feb. 20: Bounty crewmembers, Tall Ship Picton Castle, Tall Ship Pride of Baltimore II (telephone interviews)

Feb. 21: Coast Guard Marine Safety Center, Coast Guard Sector North Carolina

The 180-foot wooden ship went down 90 miles southeast of Hatteras, N.C., on Oct. 29 during Hurricane Sandy with the loss of two lives — her captain, Robin Walbridge, 63, and Claudene Christian, 42, great-great-great-great-great-granddaughter of Fletcher Christian, the mate who seized command in the 1789 munity on the original Bounty.

Engine and generator problems left the ship adrift though the night without enough power to pump out the seawater that was leaking into her bilge.

— Jim Flannery

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