Bounty third mate testifies water pump didn't work
PORTSMOUTH, Feb 15, 2013 (The Virginian-Pilot - McClatchy-Tribune Information Services via COMTEX) --
Dan Cleveland knew Hurricane Sandy was coming, but he had been through rough weather before while aboard the Bounty, including a typhoon in the Pacific.
The ship's third mate remembered saying in a conversation to other officers before the ship set sail on Oct. 25 from New London, Conn., en route to St: Petersburg, Fla.: "I guess we're going to be wet, cold and miserable for three days. Great."
Cleveland, a crew member on the Bounty since 2008, testified today at the Coast Guard hearing into the sinking of the Bounty on Oct. 29, about 90 miles southeast of Cape Hatteras. The ship's captain, Robin Walbridge, was never found and one crew member died.
Among Cleveland's statements:
- The first two days of the trip went smoothly, but the weather got heavy on Oct. 28 and the ship began to take on lots of water.
- The crew worked furiously to get a gas-powered pump to work. This was an emergency pump they were trying to use to pump out water after the ship's generators and engines were dead. They could get the pump motor running, but they couldn't get it to pump water out.
- After the Bounty's crew was dumped into the water, he and some other crew members floated on a piece of wood before finding a life raft. The life raft was still in its canister. The crew inflated it. The mitts on the thick survival suits the crew were wearing made it hard to grab the rope that runs around the outside of the life raft. The crew members had to use their teeth to pull the rope away from the raft so they could hold onto it.
Cleveland said he was aware of statements Walbridge had made about chasing hurricanes but said he might have meant something different. "I believe what he actually means, he doesn't chase them around looking for them," but instead likes to follow them to get fair winds.
He said he was comfortable with Walbridge's decision-making throughout the trip.
He said he considered five of the sailors aboard the Bounty inexperienced. Sixteen people were onboard.
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