Coast Guard recovers body of M/V Berkay N crew member north of Puerto Rico

The Coast Guard Cutter Heriberto Hernandez. U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class Mark Barney.

The Coast Guard Cutter Heriberto Hernandez. U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class Mark Barney.

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico — Coast Guard rescue crews located and recovered the body of a missing crew member from the 275-foot Chilean-flagged cargo vessel Berkay N Saturday, approximately 25 nautical miles north of Hatillo, Puerto Rico.

The death and circumstances that caused Luis Leyva Aliaga, 62, a Chilean national and First Engineer aboard the Berkay N, to go overboard from the Berkay N remain undetermined and are being investigated.

The Berkay N was en route from Gibraltar to Cuba transiting approximately 45 nautical miles north of Puerto Rico when Leyva Aliaga was last seen and later reported missing.

“Our most heartfelt condolences go out to the family and loved ones of this mariner during this most difficult time,” said Capt. Robert Warren, Sector San Juan commander.

Coast Guard rescue crews began searching for Leyva Aliaga Thursday morning when Sector San Juan watchstanders received a VHF, channel 16, marine radio communication from the Berkay N reporting him missing, after he did not report to his scheduled watch at 4 a.m. Thursday and the crew was unable to locate him onboard. Leyva Aliaga reportedly was last seen in the ship’s galley at11p.m. Wednesday.

Watchstanders at Coast Guard Sector San Juan received notification from a Good Samaritan Vessel Friday night, approximately 35 nautical miles off the northern coast of Hatillo, Puerto Rico, that had located but was unable to recover the body of a man floating in the water wearing blue coveralls.

The crew of a Coast Guard MH-65D Dolphin helicopter from Air Station Borinquen conducted a first light search Saturday morning and located the body of the missing crew member.  The crew of the Coast Guard helicopter vectored-in the Coast Guard Cutter Heriberto Hernandez that recovered and transported the crew member’s body to Sector San Juan, where it was transferred to awaiting Puerto Rico Police and Forensic authorities.

Coast Guard assets involved in the search were:

  • Coast Guard Cutter Raymond Evans
  • Coast Guard Cutter Heriberto Hernandez
  • MH-65 Dolphin helicopters from Coast Guard Air Station Borinquen
  • MH-60 Jayhawk rescue helicopter from Coast Guard Air Station Cape Cod
  • HC-130 aircraft from Coast Guard Air Station Clearwater, Fla.

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