Coast Guard crews suspend search for missing boater

PORTSMOUTH, N.H. – U.S. Coast Guard crews suspended their search for a mariner who was reported missing Friday near White Island in Portsmouth Harbor at sunset on Saturday.

A multi-agency search was initiated for Robert Schultze on Friday afternoon when his 20-foot powerboat was discovered anchored with nobody onboard in an area about a mile east of New Castle Island, known as Kitts Rocks.

Search efforts were focused at the entrance to Portsmouth Harbor and surrounding coastal, offshore and shoreline areas. A total of 105 search miles were covered by numerous air and marine resources over approximately 29 hours. Search boat crews from Station Portsmouth Harbor, a HH-60 Jayhawk helicopter crew and a HU-25 Falcon Jet crew, from Air Station Cape Cod, conducted several sorties covering the area. Maine and New Hampshire Marine Patrols, Maine State Police and several other local agencies also contributed to the effort on the water and with shoreline searches.

“The considerable effort put forth by the marine patrols and various police and fire departments to assist with the search was outstanding,” said Captain James McPherson, Commander of Sector Northern New England. “We are fortunate to have such fantastic partnerships, which greatly add to the overall coordination and quality of searches on the water.”

Weather during the search effort was a challenge for crews. Seas were 4-7 feet and winds were 15-25 knots with 68-degree water temperature. Heavy fog and near-zero visibility conditions ahead of Tropical Storm Earl put water searches on hold for several hours overnight Friday. Coast Guard crews resumed the search at first light and searched throughout the day Saturday with favorable search conditions but found no sign of Mr. Schultze.

“The decision to suspend a search and rescue case such as this is always a hard decision to make,” said McPherson. “Despite the challenging weather conditions, the Coast Guard was still able to coordinate an effective search of the area. Our sincere condolences go out to Schultze’s family and friends during this difficult time.”

Anyone with new or additional information concerning this case is asked to contact Sector Northern New England at (207) 767-0302.

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