SEATTLE — The Coast Guard has suspended the search for a U.S. Navy sailor who went missing after his boat broke apart in Crescent Harbor. on the east side of Whidbey Island, Saturday afternoon.
“The decision to suspend a search is the most difficult decision to make as a responder,”said Capt. Sean Cross, chief of incident management, Coast Guard 13th District. “Our condolences go out the family, friends and shipmates of this young sailor.”
A watchstander at Coast Guard Sector Puget Sound, in Seattle, received a report of one person in the water at 1:40 p.m. A woman aboard the boat safely swam ashore and reported the incident and the missing person.
The watchstander immediately directed the diversion of a MH-65 Dolphin helicopter crew from Coast Guard Air Station Port Angeles and directed the launch of a rescue crew aboard a 45-foot Response Boat – Medium from Coast Guard Station Seattle. The Coast Guard Cutter Sea Lion, an 87-foot patrol boat home-ported in Bellingham, arrived on scene to join the search at 4 p.m.
“The Coast Guard was on scene within moments after we were notified,” said Lt. John McKenzie, chief duty officer, Sector Puget Sound.
An aircrew aboard a SH-60 Seahawk helicopter from Naval Air Station Whidbey Island, also searched but stood down from the search at about 5 p.m. Local responders from Island County Sherriff’s and fire also searched.
The search for the missing sailor was suspended at 10 p.m. after more than eight hours of searching.
Coast Guard Air Station Port Angeles aircrews conducted nine searches, and the Navy aircrew searched for four hours. The Coast Guard boatcrew from Station Seattle and the crew of the Coast Guard Cutter Sea Lion searched for six hours. Sailors from the missing sailor’s unit combed the beaches of Whidbey Island.