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Tue Feb 26, 2013, 02:58 PM

Damning testimony at Bounty sinking hearing.

This is a blog from a CG inspector who attended the hearings as an observer:
http://gcaptain.com/tag/hms-bounty-hearings/
Just jaw-dropping. Highlights:
Shipyard foreman testifying that he found extensive rot in frames, Captain said they'd fix it later.
Testimony of Bounty's bosun (25 yo woman with no wooden ship repair experience) that house caulk was used below waterline to seal seams.
Testimony of Bounty engineer that backup pumps were never run or tested, and he had little knowledge of Bounty's mechanical systems.
Testimony of another tall ship captain ( much bigger than Bounty, and made of steel) that he advised Bounty Captain of danger of leaving port, and advised him of several safe berths nearby.
Absolute inexperience of Bounty's crew, they simply trusted the Captain.
What can only be described as hubris on the Captain's part. He had "dodged a bullet" after previous negligent or reckless actions, that he thought he was infallible.

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Arrow 24 replies Author Time Post
Reply Damning testimony at Bounty sinking hearing. (Original post)
HooptieWagon Feb 2013 OP
AndyA Feb 2013 #1
HooptieWagon Feb 2013 #5
dixiegrrrrl Feb 2013 #2
HooptieWagon Feb 2013 #3
lapislzi Feb 2013 #17
HooptieWagon Feb 2013 #22
Cleita Feb 2013 #4
HooptieWagon Feb 2013 #7
Cleita Feb 2013 #9
HooptieWagon Feb 2013 #11
Blue_Tires Feb 2013 #21
HooptieWagon Feb 2013 #23
onehandle Feb 2013 #6
HooptieWagon Feb 2013 #8
intaglio Feb 2013 #10
HooptieWagon Feb 2013 #13
intaglio Feb 2013 #14
HooptieWagon Feb 2013 #15
intaglio Feb 2013 #18
HooptieWagon Feb 2013 #20
lpbk2713 Feb 2013 #12
lapislzi Feb 2013 #16
HooptieWagon Feb 2013 #19
Sancho Feb 2013 #24

Response to HooptieWagon (Original post)

Tue Feb 26, 2013, 03:04 PM

1. Talk about a junk heap!

Seriously? Household caulk to seal under water seams? Caulk can be water tight, but not under pressure.

And sailing into a hurricane in this condition. So sad that innocent people lost their lives because of negligence.

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Response to AndyA (Reply #1)

Tue Feb 26, 2013, 03:37 PM

5. One of the lives lost wasn't so innocent.

Most of the blame has to fall on the Captain.

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Response to HooptieWagon (Original post)

Tue Feb 26, 2013, 03:05 PM

2. the more I read about this ship, the further my jaw drops.

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Response to dixiegrrrrl (Reply #2)

Tue Feb 26, 2013, 03:32 PM

3. Yes.

It was no secret the Bounty was being operated on a shoestring budget. Astonishing to me was the utter negligence...house caulk just being one example. There was the continued dodging of Coast Guard regulations. Not using or testing the backup pumps. The sheer negligence in leaving port to go into a large hurricane. Utter negligence of yes, jaw-dropping proportions.
The owner has taken the fifth. To be honest, I don't know just how culpable he is. Ultimately the responsibility lies with the Captain. He is the one responsible for knowing the seaworthiness of the ship, and the capability of the crew. If either were lacking, he is obligated to refuse to go to sea. The Bounty was an accident waiting to happen.

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Response to HooptieWagon (Reply #3)

Tue Feb 26, 2013, 05:08 PM

17. This wasn't the first mishap with the Bounty

The captain's judgment was questionable, to say the least. He had several scrapes and narrow escapes.

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Response to lapislzi (Reply #17)

Tue Feb 26, 2013, 06:27 PM

22. Yes, he got lucky and dodged a bullet a few times.

That made him overconfident, he mistook luck for seamanship. It was absolutely reckless to leave port and head out to sea to face a hurricane.

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Response to dixiegrrrrl (Reply #2)

Tue Feb 26, 2013, 03:36 PM

4. Considering that it was built as a prop for a movie made 1984, I don't

understand why it wasn't put in a maritime museum soon after. It wasn't built to be sailing the seas almost thirty years later.

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Response to Cleita (Reply #4)

Tue Feb 26, 2013, 03:47 PM

7. The movie was in the early 60s.

The ship was about 50 years old. Also, it was originally intended to burn the ship as the end of the movie (as the original Bounty was). Last minute change of plan not to. I doubt the ship was built to last, seeing it was intended to destroy it.
It sat in St Petersburg for many years...I went aboard several times. To say it was in bad shape would be an epic understatement. Supposedly, the ship had a major rebuilding about 12 years ago. But, wooden boats are in a state of constant decay. Rot, shipworms, corrosion... all take their toll. 50 years old is old for a wooden ship built and maintained to the highest standards. Built and maintained on a shoestring, its surprising it lasted that long.

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Response to HooptieWagon (Reply #7)

Tue Feb 26, 2013, 04:02 PM

9. You are right. I got my Bounty movies mixed up.

But the fact that it's even older makes this whole situation even more bizarre. I wonder if the original ships built during that era that were supposed to go to sea and around the world at the time of Capt. Bligh were even built with the idea they would last so long?

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Response to Cleita (Reply #9)

Tue Feb 26, 2013, 04:19 PM

11. Ships didn't last long.

Many were wrecked before they deteriorated. Some were cut down for use as barges and such. In general, British-built ships were better built than American-built ships, and lasted longer. Also, back then there still was a good supply of ship-building timber, and knowledgable shipwrights and riggers. Now, those materials and labor are in very short supply. Twenty years might have been an expected lifetime for a wooden ship.
It is possible for a ship to last a long time, provided it is maintained and regularly rebuilt. The USS Constitution (Old Ironsides) is over 200 years old. But it also has been rebuilt several times (it is thought that there might only be a few original timbers left in the ship), and only leaves the dock to turn it around in the slip once a year.
Maintaining the Bounty on a shoestring would mean that a major rebuilding would have to be done sooner. It appears to have been overdue.

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Response to dixiegrrrrl (Reply #2)

Tue Feb 26, 2013, 06:06 PM

21. Sadly, skirting safety or international maritime rules is business as usual

for a LOT of vessels in various industries....Fishers, tankers, transports, cruises, ferries, etc...

Pretty much every disaster of the past 20 years is due to poor design, shoddy maintenance, overloading, or gross criminal negligence/incompetence from the captain or crew...All of them in violation of the law...

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Response to Blue_Tires (Reply #21)

Tue Feb 26, 2013, 06:32 PM

23. Yes.

Usually, at the heart of any accident is human error of one sort or another. Often, several small errors that have a cumulative effect.

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Response to HooptieWagon (Original post)

Tue Feb 26, 2013, 03:43 PM

6. I went aboard in Florida when I was a kid.

Needless to say, it was probably in much better shape decades ago.

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Response to onehandle (Reply #6)

Tue Feb 26, 2013, 03:58 PM

8. I was aboard a few times in the 70s.

It was d#teriorating badly. It was refurbished in the eighties and 2001, but wooden boats need constant maintainence. Evidently, it was being done on the cheap.

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Response to HooptieWagon (Original post)

Tue Feb 26, 2013, 04:16 PM

10. Then there is the Marine Architect

Who saw no conflicts of interest in surveying his own designs for friends.

The First Officer who allowed an incompetent engineer to oversee the pumps and engines

And, probably most culpable, the Owner who cared so little for his ship that he sought only the cheapest solutions and the cheapest crew.

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Response to intaglio (Reply #10)

Tue Feb 26, 2013, 04:29 PM

13. Yes, and the constant dodging of CG inspections and regulations.

I would say ultimately the responsibility lies with the Captain. He is expected to know the condition of the ship... the owner may not have even seen the ship in a while. And the Caption is expected to know the capabilities of the crew. Knowing the poor condition of the ship, and the inexperience of the crew, the Captain is obligated to refuse to leave port. That is an obligation to the lives of the crew, the lives of rescuers, an asset of the owner, and a liability of the insurer. It appears the Captain was doing a lot of deception.

Edit to add: Yes, the surveyor would appear to be in deep doodoo. It appears to me that its likely he was conspiring with the Captain to skirt CG regulations, and perhaps to hide the true condition of the ship from the insurers. There will certainly be a civil suit against him.

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Response to HooptieWagon (Reply #13)

Tue Feb 26, 2013, 04:41 PM

14. Agreed, and most of the deception

was of himself.

My Grandfather (who I never met) worked tall ships, I still have the cedar sea chest he made during his time as a middy. He was a Captain with Cable and Wireless and served on the Great Eastern during the time she was a cable layer. My grandmother always said that the greatest danger for any ship was the overconfident Master.

Ha! was just looking at a sketch of him and realised that I have his nose and my sister has his ears!

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Response to intaglio (Reply #14)

Tue Feb 26, 2013, 04:55 PM

15. Whoa! My GGGrandfather was on the Great Eastern!

He was one of the supervisors during construction, and a 4th Mate during the maiden voyage during which a boiler exploded. He emigrated to the US afterward, and was commissioned an officer in the US Navy. He was at the battle of the Monitor and Merrimac (Virginia).

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Response to HooptieWagon (Reply #15)

Tue Feb 26, 2013, 05:32 PM

18. Eat your heart out Kevin Bacon!

That's - cool

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Response to intaglio (Reply #18)

Tue Feb 26, 2013, 05:57 PM

20. Augustus Cary.

http://open.salon.com/blog/another_steve_s/2011/07/05/death_on_the_ss_great_eastern_-i_k_brunels_tragic_visit

The Carys were a noted Devon family, going back to the Norman invasion. After serving in the US Navy, and as Captain of a Revenue Cutter (forerunner of the Coast Guard), he retired to Minnesota and became a farmer. This was my mother's family, they stayed in the midwest (Minn, Wis, Chicago) until she married my father, and he was stationed at Norfolk Navy Hospital.

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Response to HooptieWagon (Original post)

Tue Feb 26, 2013, 04:23 PM

12. Sounds like it was a disaster looking for a time and place to happen.





... and it just couldn't wait any longer. The perfect storm of negligence and procrastination.


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Response to HooptieWagon (Original post)

Tue Feb 26, 2013, 05:01 PM

16. You must read this.

http://www.outsideonline.com/outdoor-adventure/Sunk-The-Incredible-Truth-About-a-Ship-That-Never-Should-Have-Sailed.html

Very long, and very good. That ship had no business being on the high seas. It was registered as a "dockside attracton." Was not seaworthy in the slightest.

My daughter sails tall ships, and she knew the crew. They were in port together in Newport over the summer. Great people sailing on a lousy boat.

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Response to lapislzi (Reply #16)

Tue Feb 26, 2013, 05:40 PM

19. I've read that.

I have no idea how they intended to pull that off. The Bounty was not certified to carry passengers. I guess they intented to violate the law.

My parents have a condo in Boothbay overlooking where the Bounty was docked. My father was aboard many times over the past decade. He said the Captain seemed capable (but he hadn't been to sea with him), and that the ship had modern navigation and communication gear. He also said the engines were very low-powered, only able to move the ship at about 6 knots in calm water. Not capable of powering the ship in hurricane conditions. Also, the "waterfront talk" around Boothbay was that there was extensive rot in the hull.

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Response to HooptieWagon (Original post)

Tue Feb 26, 2013, 06:38 PM

24. So sad...

I work near the Bounty's winter home in st pete. I saw her many times. It's so sad to lose her and lives that were lost because of stupidity.

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