A Coast Guard helicopter rescued 14 crew members from a replica of the 18th-century HMS Bounty about 90 miles off the coast of North Carolina, and a search was continuing for two others.
The ship itself was reported to have sunk.
The rescued crew had donned survival suits and life jackets and boarded two lifeboats after the ship began taking on water. They were plucked from 18-foot seas just before sunrise.
The ship issued a distress signal late Sunday after taking on water, the U.S. Coast Guard said.
The ship had left Connecticut last week bound for St. Petersburg, Fla., and was attempting to maneuver around Hurricane Sandy as the storm moved north.
The 180-foot three-master was built for the 1962 Marlon Brando version of the "Mutiny on the Bounty." It has also been used in other films, including one of Johnny Depp's "Pirates of the Caribbean" movies.
The ship visited Newburyport in July and Gloucester in September.