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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  1. Janis Carroll says:

    My prayers go out to the family of Captain McAuliffe, the SeaTow Family and a heartfelt thank you and prayers to the many responders that risk their life everyday in life threatening situations.

  2. George T Turner says:

    I was aquatinted with his sister through a good friend Dr. Rispoli. I was told that Captain McAuliffe was a brilliant young man the youngest captain of a sea Tug ever. a extremely bright and handsome young man that just began to make his mark in this world. With the transponder and the rapid convergence to the beacon GPS location less than 30 minutes it seems very odd this man can be lost. as soon as the GPS device became wet it broadcasted its position an that he was in trouble as an engineer paid to think outside the boxs this is very strange and further investigation is warranted. This boat could not just disappear. God bless the family. I am so sorry.

    Former Research Engineer
    G. T. Turner