HMS Bounty Readies for New Life as Maritime Academy

ON Friday, the crew of the HMS Bounty set sail for a new port - only this time the captain remained.

The ship is a replica of the 1780s original, built in 1960 by MGM studios for the Marlin Brando film "Mutiny on the Bounty."

Fall River challenged 40 other coastal United States cities for the right to call the Bounty native after media magnate Ted Turner announced he would give away the vessel, says Robert Boisselle, president of the Fall River Chamber of Commerce. Its plans to keep the ship sailing helped it beat even Turner's home town of Savannah, Ga.

Unlike other tall ships, which have become dockside museums, the Bounty is set to sail with students of the sea aboard, perhaps as early as next year.

Fall River is an ideal place for such a mission. A longtime-seafaring town rich with Portuguese culture, the community made a spectacular show of welcoming its new resident. The banks of the Taunton River were lined with a wall of enthusiastic onlookers; cannons cracked from the USS Massachusetts, part of the city's Battleship Cove Naval memorial; and a flotilla of pleasure boats circled the tall ship. Portuguese contra dancers topped off the festivities.

Overnight the Bounty has become the hottest attraction in Fall River. The Bounty will "serve as an ambassador for Fall River," says Mr. Boisselle, sailing to other cities with tall ships they would like to trade, and drawing people here.

In the meantime, however, the Bounty is in need of $1.5 million worth of improvements to meet Coast Guard certification as a sailing school vessel. Through the summer it will remain in Battleship Cove taking visitors and attracting interest which officials hope to turn into investment.

When restoration is complete, according to Boiselle, the ship will teach seamanship to would-be sailors, provide a seagoing laboratory for oceanography students, and serve as a dockside facility for students studying everything from woodworking to diesel mechanics.

In addition to the concrete plans for the Bounty, one rumor permeated the community: Columbia Pictures may be looking for a tall ship for a coming movie about a woman pirate. It would be the perfect casting.

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