The Coast Guard released its Report of Investigation (ROI) yesterday into the sinking of the Tall Ship Bounty off the coast of Cape Hatteras, N.C., in October 2012. Two lost their lives.
The report concluded that the most critical factor in the sinking was the failure of Bounty’s management and master to exercise effective oversight and risk management in the overall management of the Bounty, specifically with undertaking the vessel’s final voyage in the face of the impending hurricane. There was a failure to adequately assess the fitness of the vessel for its final voyage, material condition of the vessel, and the experience and capability of its crew, especially to withstand heavy weather.
The report also cited issues with the Bounty’s classification. At the time of the sinking, the Bounty was treated as a recreational vessel for regulatory purposes, though it was a documented vessel with multiple endorsements including recreational, fisheries, coastwise and registry. This made the Bounty eligible to pursue classification as a small passenger or sailing school vessel. The Bounty’s management decided against taking the necessary steps to meet the minimum safety requirements that would have applied to such a classification in favor of the less stringent recreational standards.