Coast Guard suspends search for missing 34-year-old tow boat operator

5th Coast Guard District News
ATLANTIC CITY, N.J. — The Coast Guard suspended its search Wednesday for a 34-year-old tow boat operator who went missing Tuesday morning after the Coast Guard received a distress alert from an Emergency Position Indicating Radio Beacon (EPIRB) near Great Egg Harbor.

Missing is David McAuliffe.

The Coast Guard searched more than 400 square miles, for 65 combined asset hours.

“We are deeply saddened by the difficult decision to suspend our search efforts for Capt. David McAuliffe.” said Capt. Kathy Moore, the commander of Coast Guard Sector Delaware Bay. “This is a man who made a career of helping others on the water, often placing himself in harm’s way to do so. Our deepest sympathies are with his family, friends and fellow mariners.”

The 45-foot Sea Tow boat Cape Hatteras departed Absecon Inlet at approximately 7:45 a.m. Tuesday en route to Great Egg Harbor, according to the boat’s owner. Three hours later, Coast Guard watchstanders received an EPIRB activation alert. The operator aboard the Cape Hatteras did not respond to cell phone or radio calls.

Assisting in the search were:

  • Five MH-65 Dolphin helicopter crews from Coast Guard Air Station Atlantic City
  • Four 45-foot Response Boat – Medium crews from Coast Guard Station Cape May
  • Two 47-foot Motor Life Boat crews (including one heavy weather crew) from Coast Guard Station Atlantic City
  • The crew aboard the 87-foot Coast Guard Cutter Finback, homeported in Cape May
  • The New Jersey State Police Department
  • Local police department members
  • Sea Tow boat crews
  • good Samaritans


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