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Sandy-sunk tall ship visited Ogdensburg in 2010

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OGDENSBURG —A tragedy that unfolded Monday from Hurricane Sandy had a connection to the city in 2010.

The tall ship HMS Bounty sank Monday in the hurricane-churned Atlantic Ocean off the coast of North Carolina. According to published reports, 14 of the 16 people aboard the replica, 180-foot, three-masted ship, tall ship were rescued by U.S. Coast Guard helicopters. Crew member Claudene Christian was pulled unresponsive from the water and later pronounced dead at a North Carolina hospital.

The ship’s long-time captain, Robin Walbridge, was still reportedly missing on Tuesday. Coast Guard officials said. Mr. Walbridge went overboard when the ship rolled over from the impact of 18-foot ocean waves.

Greater Ogdensburg Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Sandra M. Porter was shocked when she heard the news.

“It is absolutely heartbreaking,” Ms. Porter said Tuesday.

Ms. Porter and the chamber were instrumental in bringing the HMS Bounty to Ogdensburg in May 2010 for a weekend stopover at the city’s St. Lawrence River docks in the Greenbelt. The vessel was en route to the Great Lakes as part of the 2010 Great Lakes United Tall Ships Challenge.

The Ogdensburg stopover was a big success.

“We had more than 5,000 people visit the Bounty,” Ms. Porter said.

Chamber officials hoped that the Bounty would return to Ogdensburg that fall, but scheduling conflicts prevented it. A stop here this past summer was discussed, but never materialized.

Ms. Porter was especially shocked at the apparent fate of Mr. Walbridge.

“I remember meeting the captain,” she said. “He was such a nice man.”

In Clayton, Michael Folsom, organizer of the summer festival Sailing Seaway Clayton, which has helped draw numerous tall ships to the area, reacted to the grim news in a prepared statement.

“It is sad to hear the reports regarding the historic and world famous tall ship Bounty,” he said. “This national treasure holds a place in the hearts of many, including myself. Prayers go out to the crew and their rescuers during this troubling time,” the statement said.

The ship had also been considering a visit to Clayton last summer while in the Great Lakes for the Tall Ships Challenge.

The HMS Bounty had an impressive motion picture past. Its cinematic credits included appearances in the 1960 film “Mutiny on the Bounty” starring Marlon Brando, “Treasure Island” with Charlton Heston in 1989, “Sponge Bob Square Pants — The Movie” and “Pirates of the Caribbean — Dead Man’s Chest” starring Johnny Depp.

According to its Web site, The Bounty was built in 1960 for MGM studios’ “Mutiny on the Bounty.” It was named after the storied mutiny that took place in Tahiti in 1789 on board the British transport vessel.

MGM commissioned the ship from the shipwrights of Smith and Ruhland in Lunenburg, Nova Scotia, to build a new Bounty from scratch. It was built from the original ship’s drawings still on file in the British admiralty archives.

In 1986, businessman and Cable News Network founder Ted Turner acquired the MGM film library and the Bounty, where it had been berthed in St. Petersburg, Fla., as a tourist attraction. In 1993, Mr. Turner donated the ship to the Fall River Chamber Foundation, which established the Tall Ship Bounty Foundation to operate the ship as an educational venture.

In February 2001, the Bounty was purchased from the Foundation by HMS Bounty Organization LLC, whose mission as to keep the ship sailing and use it as a vehicle for teaching the nearly lost arts of square rigged sailing and seamanship.

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