The 16-member crew of the HMS Bounty, a replica vessel modeled after its 18th century namesake, was forced to abandon ship after a collision with Hurricane Sandy off the coast of Cape Hatteras caused the ship to start taking on water at an uncontrollable rate.

Bounty was on its way to Florida when Sandy struck and the ship lost power. "He was just trying to avoid it, skirt it. Skirt through it, skirt around it," Claudia McCann, wife of Captain Robin Walbridge, told CBC News.

All 16 crew members (initial reports incorrectly claims there were 17 on board) were safely evacuated to covered life-rafts after radioing the Coast Guard for assistance.

The Bounty sank a few hours later.

So far only 14 crew members have been rescued, and the air search continues for the missing shipmates. According to Coast Guard Lt. Brendan Selerno, the two missing people are believed to be wearing cold water survival suits as well as life-jackets.

The Bounty was constructed in Nova Scotia for the 1962 Marlon Brando film Mutiny on the Bounty. It went on to star in 1989's Treasure Island alongside Charlton Heston and in at least two Pirates of the Caribbean films.

UPDATE: Watch footage of the Coast Guard's daring air rescue below (via DVIDS):

UPDATE 2: Claudene Christian, one of the two missing crew members and a direct descendant of Fletcher Christian who initiated the infamous mutiny on the Bounty, was found dead a short while ago.

A Coast Guard helicopter is still searching for the ship's captain, 63-year-old Robin Walbridge.

[photo via AP]