A half dozen Bounty crew members have now testified about what doomed the wooden ship in Hurricane Sandy.
They’ve all revealed the Bounty’s pumps, the machines that are supposed to gulp seawater that seeped into the ship and spit it overboard, were not working correctly, or at all.
Third Mate Daniel Cleveland testified on Friday that as the Bounty plowed toward Hurricane Sandy, her captain Robin Walbridge worried about the leaks.
It was the first time the captain conceded the Bounty was in trouble. Boatswain Laura Groves said when waves hit the hull, it was obvious water was getting through.
“There was an open seam in the engine room, above the water line on the port side. You could hear water coming in when we rolled. It was like, psssssst,” described Groves.
In the hearing’s most clear and compelling testimony, she said it became more clear hour by hour that the Bounty was losing ground to the storm. The seawater killed the engines and generators, and it was clear to the captain the ship was lost.
Crew members said it was time to abandon the ship. The captain held them off, and they testified that when they relented, it was too late. The ship rolled over.
Matt Sanders may have been the last to see the captain and Claudene Christian alive. He couldn’t help her because his leg was trapped in the wreckage.
“She was right next to me on deck. And while my leg was pinched and she was saying, what do I do? What do I do? I said, Claudene, you have to go forward. You have to make your way to get clear of the boat,” says Sanders.
The Bounty was not yet done punishing the crew. It straightened itself out a bit, and then with the crew scrambling to swim away, it rolled back on them.
Sixteen crew members made it to life rafts, but not Claudene and not the captain.