Coast Guard suspends search for four fishermen

Coast Guard Station St. Joseph accepts new 45-foot RB-MJACKSONVILLE, Fla. — The Coast Guard suspended the search for four fishermen whose vessel reportedly caught fire and sank Monday.

The search was suspended at approximately 1:20 p.m., Tuesday.

Coast Guard search crews covered an area of 2,260 square miles from south Jacksonville Beach to St. Augustine since the initial distress call was made, Monday afternoon. The Coast Guard search lasted approximately 24 hours.

“Suspending a search is a difficult decision to make,” said Mark Visconti, a search and rescue controller with Coast Guard Sector Jacksonville. “Our goal for every search and rescue mission is to find survivors and return them to their loved ones. We’ll investigate any new leads on this case and resume searching if appropriate.”

The Coast Guard searched Tuesday morning and afternoon with the crew of the 87-foot Coast Guard Cutter Shrike.

The crew aboard the Shrike searched all throughout Monday night. A Coast Guard Auxiliary airplane also searched Tuesday morning at first light, and continued throughout the morning.

No vessels have been reported overdue to the Coast Guard, nor has anyone been reported missing to the Coast Guard. It is not known who the fishermen are or where they are from. There has been no sighting of the vessel or any debris as of Tuesday morning despite optimal search conditions.

Watchstanders in the Coast Guard Sector Jacksonville command center were notified of the situation at 1:14 p.m., Monday, via a distress “Mayday” call on VHF Ch. 16. The captain stated his 37-foot fishing vessel had suffered a fire, was taking on water and the crewmembers were abandoning the vessel into a life raft.

Monday’s response included a crew aboard a 45-foot Response Boat-Medium from Coast Guard Station Mayport, crews aboard two MH-65 Dolphin helicopters from Coast Guard Air Station Savannah, Ga., an HC-130 Hercules airplane from Air Station Clearwater, Fla., the crew aboard the 87-foot Coast Guard Cutter Shrike from Port Canaveral, the crew aboard the USS The Sullivans (DDG-68) from Naval Station Mayport, a Coast Guard Auxiliary aircraft, Sea Tow and good Samaritan vessels in the area.

The Coast Guard requests anyone having information that may be helpful in this case to contact the Coast Guard Sector Jacksonville command center at 904-564-7511.

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