(CNN) — Navigating the raging winds of Hurricane Sandy, two MH-60 Jayhawk helicopter crews saved 14 people stranded in the Atlantic Ocean on Monday morning, but two people were still missing as of mid-morning, a Coast Guard spokesman said.
Sixteen crew members of a 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 crew from the HMS Bounty boarded two lifeboats, hoping for rescue as soon as possible.
The first chopper rescued nine crew members from a lifeboat around 6:30 a.m, then 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.
The Bounty was used in the making of 1962’s “Mutiny on the Bounty,” starring Marlon Brando, as well as “Treasure Island” and “Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest,” CNN affiliate WTKR-TV said.
CNN’s Meridith Edwards and Mike Ahlers contributed to this report.