The Go-To Guy On The HMS Bounty Hearings

20 Feb

If you are interested in detailed analysis of the HMS Bounty sinking, from a real pro, you need to be over on GCaptain. Why? Their correspondent at the hearing is a guy called Mario Vittone, who spent 21 years in the US Navy and Coast Guard. In other words, he really knows his stuff.

Vittone's growing archive of reporting on the hearing does a nice job of picking up the key details, But he is also not afraid to pass judgement, based on his experience. For

example, from his latest report:

I’ve been listening to the crew of Bounty tell these stories for six full days now, and I have tried very hard to hold back my opinion. I’m a former Coast Guard vessel inspector and investigator, but I’m not an expert in wood hull construction and though I love the things, I don’t know much about tall ships. But this part? This part about abandoning ship and sea survival? This is what I know. This is what I’ve spent most of my adult life on. There may be people who know more about this than I do, but I haven’t met them. So here is my opinion:

Captain Walbridge called his crew to the weather deck to abandon his sinking ship at least twelve hours after he should have.  His first call to the Coast Guard was made at least thirty-five hours after it should have been made.

On Saturday (the 27th),  the weather started to turn and the bilges needed constant pumping.  On any other ship in the world, that’s called flooding. The code of federal regulations calls that a reportable marine casualty; it’s something that should be, you know, reported. 

Vittone goes on to explain his opinion, and it is not, shall we say, kind to the judgment and decision-making of the Bounty leadership. 

You can find the full archive of his reporting on the Bounty hearings here. It is fascinating, and illuminating, stuff–must-read for anyone who wants to understand what happened.


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