Cape Hatteras, NC (CNN/10 News) -- Navigating the raging winds of Hurricane Sandy, two MH-60 Jayhawk helicopter crews saved 14 crew members of the HMS Bounty who were stranded in the Atlantic Ocean on Monday morning.Two people were still missing as of mid-morning, a Coast Guard spokesman said.
The 16 crew members ofthe tall ship, used for classic adventure films, faced a harrowing real-life drama Monday as Hurricane Sandy forced them to abandon ship about 90 miles off Cape Hatteras, North Carolina.
Fighting waves towering 18 feet high, and winds of 40 mph, the crewfrom the HMS Bounty boarded two lifeboats, hoping for rescue as soon as possible.
The Bounty sank after its crew evacuated.
The first chopper rescued nine crew members from a lifeboat around 6:30 a.m.Soon after, the second helicopter hoisted five more of the castaways aboard, Petty Officer Brandyn Hill said. The Coast Guard was bringing all 14 to the Coast Guard air station in Elizabeth City, North Carolina, according to Hill.
A C-130 aircraft is still looking for the two missing crew members, who the Coast Guard believes are in a lifeboat. A third Jayhawk crew is en route to help the search-and-rescue effort, the Coast Guard said.
Initial reports said 17 crew members were aboard the HMS Bounty, but the Coast Guard corrected that number in its most recent statement.
The Coast Guard said it has "diminished search and rescue capabilities" as the Category 1 hurricane batters the U.S. East Coast. More sea rescues prompted by Sandy were reported in Delaware Bay.
Wearing special cold-weather survival suits, crew members abandoned ship Monday to lifeboats designed to hold 25 people. The boats also have canopies to help shelter them somewhat from Sandy's pelting rain and winds.
The Coast Guard received an emergency call from the ship's owner Sunday after the 80-foot, three-masted vessel lost power and started taking on water, the Coast Guard said. Rescuers picked up an emergency locator beacon from the vessel, and an HC-130 aircraft was dispatched to the area, where the plane made contact with the crew.
See Also:The Bounty's Facebook page
The Bounty spends its winter months at the St. Petersburg Pier. The ship is a replica of the one made famous by a 1789 mutiny that led to stories and films titled, "Mutiny on the Bounty."It has also appeared in "Pirates of the Caribbean 2."
The director of the HMS Bounty Organization, Tracie Simonin, said that the tall ship left Connecticut last week for St. Petersburg. She said the crew had been in constant contact with the National Hurricane Center and tried to go around the storm.
The Bounty was captained by Robin Walbridge, also of St. Petersburg. While there has been no official word on who the two missing crew members are,the CBC is reporting that Captain Walbridge is one of them.