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HMS Bounty captain missing at sea, one rescued crewmember has died

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WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) -- The captain of the HMS Bounty is still missing after 16-crew members abandoned ship Sunday night. 14 survivors were rescued.

Claudine Christian, 42, was the 15th crewmember rescued Monday after the HMS Bounty sunk off the coast of the Outer Banks. Christian was found unresponsive and later died according to the Bounty's website.

The ship is a replica of the original Bounty and has been featured in movies, including "Mutiny on the Bounty" and "Pirates of the Caribbean." It visited Wilmington earlier this year.

The famous replica ship had left Connecticut last week for Florida. As Hurricane Sandy began its path up the East Coast, the Bounty was still out at sea and reportedly tried to go around the storm. But Sunday night, the Coast Guard received a call from the ship's owner saying the Bounty was rapidly taking on water with no power.

The Bounty's website says the 63-year-old captain, Robin Walbridge ordered all 15 other crewmembers to abandon ship, using life rafts and cold-water survival suits. Early Monday, about 90 miles southeast of Cape Hatteras, the Coast Guard rescued 14. Coast guard swimmers dove into 30-foot waves and survivors were hoisted from the ocean in baskets.

During a phone interview on ABC's "Good Morning America," Coast Guard Vice Adm. Robert Parker, Operational Commander for the Atlantic Area, said the Coast Guard got a call from the owner of the Bounty around 9:45 p.m. that the ship was taking on two feet of water per hour off the Outer Banks. He said the crew abandoned ship into canopied, rubber life rafts with about 10 feet of water on board. The Coast Guard said the crew was wearing cold-water survival suits.

Parker said two H-60 helicopters hoisted survivors from the rafts. One helicopter brought on nine crew members. The other brought on five survivors. The Coast Guard says two crew members are adrift at sea.

"We certainly hope for the best, but we're preparing for the worst," Vice Adm. Parker said.

"This is something we train for everyday," Coast Guard Lt. Jenny Fields said. "I mean obviously these conditions expand upon that training quite significantly."

The survivors were ferried back to land in two Coast Guard helicopters, grateful to be alive.

"As more got into the chopper and they start being able to see their friends and realize that this very dark time was over- they were cheering, hugging, excited-- so that pat makes you feel good at the end of the day," Lt. Fields said.

Hours later, Christian was rescued, but as day turned into night it is their captain that still remains lost at sea.

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