Bounty captain's actions defended by wife

Feb. 12, 2013 at 4:00 PM

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla., Feb. 12 (UPI) -- The widow of a tall ship captain who died at sea during Hurricane Sandy is defending her husband's decisions during and before the storm.

Claudia McCann, wife of HMS Bounty Capt. Robin Walbridge, said her husband was a consummate seaman who had been through worse storms as skipper of the HMS Bounty, an 18th century replica three mast ship that has been used in various movies, including the "Pirates of the Caribbean" series and Marlon Brando's classic "Mutiny on the Bounty."

Walbridge and crew set sail from the safety of port in Connecticut on their way to St. Petersburg, Fla., into the path of Sandy, churning up the East Coast.

Walbridge was never found despite a four-day Coast Guard search and rescue operation. Thirteen others survived as Walbridge gave the order to abandon ship after the Bounty lost power and began taking on water.

Fellow seamen defended Walbridge, CNN said Tuesday.

The captain's close friend Ralph McCutcheon said the Bounty had seen plenty worse and was in tip-top shape.

"We'd been through two other hurricanes -- ones with higher seas -- in '96," McCutcheon said. "The ship was in the best shape it ever been since it was built."

It had just completed a mandatory inspection required by the Coast Guard every two years.

A week-long Coast Guard hearing detailing questions over the Bounty's sinking begins this week.

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