Coast Guard suspends search for 2 missing from overturned vessel

Coast Guard MH-60T Jayhawk helicopter file photo

Coast Guard MH-60T Jayhawk helicopter file photo

WILMINGTON, N.C. — The Coast Guard has suspended the search Thursday for two persons in the water after an overturned recreational vessel was discovered near Beaufort Inlet on Tuesday.

George Hamilton Andrews from Raleigh and William “Bill” Watkins Merriman IV from Wilmington remain missing. They were last seen departing from Atlantic Beach Sunday for a fishing trip aboard the 35-foot recreational boat Strike Zone.

“After the utmost consideration and careful review of all factors involved in this search and rescue case, the Coast Guard has made the difficult decision to suspend its active search efforts,” said Captain Matt Baer, Sector Commander for Coast Guard Sector North Carolina. “The decision to suspend a search is never easy and our sincere thoughts go out to the families and friends of Mr. Andrews and Mr. Merriman during this incredibly trying time.”

The Coast Guard, along with local agencies, began searching for the mariners Tuesday morning after watchstanders at Coast Guard Sector North Carolina Command Center received a report from a transiting fishing vessel that a 35-foot recreational boat was found overturned approximately four nautical miles outside of Beaufort Inlet.

“The Coast Guard diligently searched with our pilots, boat forces, cutter crews and numerous partner agencies in the water, in the air and on land,” said Cmdr. Corrie Sergent, a search and rescue mission coordinator at Coast Guard Sector North Carolina. “We saturated the vast search area but, unfortunately, were unable to locate the two missing men.”

Coast Guard crews searched approximately 8,600 square miles over a period of 58 hours with multiple assets.

Resources used in the search efforts:

  • Coast Guard Station Fort Macon 47-foot Motor Lifeboat
  • Coast Guard Air Station Elizabeth City MH-60 Jayhawk helicopter
  • Coast Guard Air Station Elizabeth City HC-130 Hercules aircraft
  • Coast Guard Cutter Seahawk
  • Coast Guard Cutter Nathan Bruckenthal
  • Atlantic Beach Fire Department small boat
  • Morehead City Fire Department small boat
  • Beaufort Fire Department small boat
  • National Park Service
  • Carteret County Sheriff’s Department

TowBoat U.S. recovered the overturned vessel and the Coast Guard is investigating the incident.

Anyone with information relating to the case is asked to reach out to Sector North Carolina Command Center watchstanders at (910) 343-3880.

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