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Bounty crew abandon ship

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WASHINGTON -- A monster hurricane off the US coast forced the 17-member crew of the HMS Bounty to abandon the famed three-masted tall ship and lower lifeboats into stormy seas Monday, a Coast Guard statement said. 

The crew donned cold water survival suits and life jackets before launching in two 25-man lifeboats with canopies after getting caught up in stormy seas 144 kilometres southeast of Hatteras, North Carolina.

The owner of the vessel, which was built for the 1962 movie "Mutiny on the Bounty" with Marlon Brando and has also featured in "Pirates of the Caribbean" with Johnny Depp, said he lost contact with the crew late Sunday.

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