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Crew woman dies after HMS Bounty replica sinks

By Harriet McLeod

(Reuters) - A crew woman who was pulled from the water after the replica ship HMS Bounty sank during Hurricane Sandy has died, a spokesman for a North Carolina hospital said on Tuesday.

Fourteen other crew members were rescued from life rafts in the Atlantic Ocean and the Coast Guard was still searching for the ship's captain.

Claudene Christian, 42, was unresponsive when rescuers pulled her from the sea and hoisted her aboard a Coast Guard helicopter on Monday afternoon. She was taken to Albemarle Hospital in Elizabeth City, North Carolina, where she died, spokesman Patrick Detwiler said.

The 16-member crew donned orange neoprene survival suits and life jackets and abandoned the replica tall ship about 90 miles southeast of Cape Hatteras, North Carolina, after it began taking on water and lost propulsion.

The three-masted, 180-foot (55-meter) ship, which was built for the 1962 movie, "Mutiny on the Bounty," sank.

Rescuers pulled 14 crew members from the rafts and took them safely to shore. Christian and the missing captain, Robin Walbridge, 63, were washed overboard before they could make it onto the rafts.

The ship was on its way from New London, Connecticut, to St. Petersburg, Florida, and was about 160 miles from the eye of the hurricane when it foundered.

The original Bounty, a British transport vessel, gained infamy for a mutiny in Tahiti in 1789. Marlon Brando starred as lead mutineer Fletcher Christian in the movie for which the ship was built.

(Additional reporting by Gene Cherry, editing by Jane Sutton and David Brunnstrom)