Missing yacht: Families of missing sailors plead for more time after US Coast Guard calls off search

 

The US Coast Guard on Monday rejected tearful pleas from the families of four sailors missing in the mid-Atlantic to resume the search operation, as a photograph emerged of what is thought to be their capsized yacht just feet away from a passing cargo ship.

The Cheeki Rafiki, a 39ft racing yacht, was returning to the UK from Antigua when it began to take on water on Thursday. The crew managed to set off two distress signals and their families believe the experienced sailors would have been able to get into a life raft.

US and Canadian aircraft, assisted by three merchant vessels, looked for the men throughout Friday and Saturday, but called off the search on Sunday at 5am local time, amid stormy weather, despite suggestions that the men could still be alive in a life raft or trapped inside the boat’s upturned hull.

Some 4,000 square miles of the sea were scanned for the "very well-equipped" vessel's two personal location GPS beacons, until no more transmissions were received from the small devices which have a short battery life.

A Foreign Office spokesman declined to comment when asked if it had asked the US Coast Guard to start looking for the sailors again.

“The US Coast Guard has given us assurances that they have conducted a fully exhaustive search,” he said.

The Foreign Office added that the UK Coastguard “supports” its American counterpart’s decision to suspend the search.

The upturned hull of what is thought to be the Cheeki Rafiki was photographed by a container ship, the Maersk Kure, which passed by within a few feet. The 1,000ft cargo vessel diverted to the area where the yacht was believed to be at the request of the US Coast Guard, but did not attempt to check whether anyone was still trapped in the hull.

An official with Athens-based shipping company Costamare, which runs the Maersk Kure, told The Independent that the ship would not have been able to use one of its lifeboats to check the yacht.

The missing men, Paul Goslin, 56, Steve Warren, 52, both from Somerset, James Male, 23, from Southampton, and Andrew Bridge, 21, from Farnham, Surrey,  were all described as experienced sailors.

Mary Bridge, the mother of 21-year-old Mr Bridge, told BBC News: "I'm a bit numb actually. We wanted him back.

"We know they've worked hard for two days but my husband and I and my other son and the other families all wish them to resume the search for these four men."

Her husband, David, added: "The weather has improved so they should restart their search. We all think they're in the life raft. One personal beacon was set off, and when that died they set another personal beacon off, which would suggest they were somewhere safe enough to be able to do so."

Cressida Goslin, whose husband Paul was among the crew, highlighted a petition which has gathered over 23,000 signatures in less than 24 hours urging a continuation of the search.

Claire Goslin, Mr Goslin's daughter, was amongst those who have signed the petition.

"One of the sailors is my dad and we cannot give up! He is my world and we need to start this search again!!!" she wrote.

Contact was lost with the yachtsmen on Friday when they were diverting to the Azores Contact was lost with the yachtsmen on Friday when they were diverting to the Azores (Google Maps)
Mr Male's father, Graham Male, mirrored Mr and Mrs Bridge's comments during an interview with ITV Meridian, and also said there was evidence that the crew had acted in a reasoned manner.

"When they were set off they were set off in a timed position, they reserved their resources, they waited until the first beacon had run out before they actually set the second beacon - that's rational-thinking people.

"We know they are very qualified and they have certainly had a lot of training. These aren't your average weekend sailors, they are sailors that are professional, we know they would have had every piece of equipment and they would have every chance to get on that life raft," said Mr Male, adding he was urging the Government to put further pressure on the US Coastguard.

Kay Coombes, the sister of Mr Warren who works as a project manager for an electrical company in Wncanton, Somerset, said that she and their mother, Margaret Warren, were convinced that he was still alive.

She added that their mother was very upset and added: "It's very, very difficult, especially being so far away."

On Tuesday, the team shared one of their last blog posts on Facebook, reading: "And yesterday we did it ... we turned east for home, completing our first 1,000 miles [which] was celebrated with a release of a cherished beach ball with a note inside, I hope it doesn't get home before us!

"We are already thinking of home and the ones we love and miss, you know who you are!"

Paul Goslin and James Male are experienced sailors Paul Goslin and James Male are experienced sailors
Mr Bridge, who is from Farnham in Surrey, was being paid by Southampton-based yacht training and charter company Stormforce Coaching for his role as captain, a spokeswoman for the firm said.

He had taken part in Antigua Week together with Mr Goslin, from West Camel, Somerset, Mr Warren, from Bridgwater, also in Somerset, and Mr Male, from Southampton, all described as "very experienced offshore yachtsmen".

Doug Innes, director of Southampton-based Stormforce Coaching, which manages the yacht, said the search operation had been “exceptional”.

“We are devastated that search has been called off so soon after the abandonment to a life raft," he added.

Andrew Pindar, who runs the GAC Pindar sailing team, pointed to the successful  rescue of Tony Bullimore, a sailor who capsized in  the Indian Ocean in the 1990s and was trapped for  several days.

“I don’t know what has happened in this particular case and wouldn’t want to speculate, but if nobody has gone to look inside there is a clear worry that survivors could have still been trapped there,” he said. Andrew Bridge and Steve Warren are experienced sailors Andrew Bridge and Steve Warren are experienced sailors

“It is horrific to think that it [the container ship] could have sailed on with the possibility that someone was still inside.”

The US Coast Guard said it had “suspended its active search pending further developments”.

“We are extremely disappointed that we were not  able to locate the sailors  during the course of this extensive search.

“Our thoughts and prayers are with their families  during this difficult time,” said Captain Anthony Popiel,  1st Coast Guard District Chief of Response.

A Foreign Office spokeswoman said: "We are aware of a missing yacht off the East Coast of the USA with four British nationals on board.

"We are in continual contact with the US Coastguard and are providing consular assistance to the families."

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Arts and Entertainment
Christian Grey cradles Ana in the Fifty Shades of Grey film
filmFifty Shades of Grey trailer provokes moral outrage in US
Travel
travel
Life and Style
The veteran poverty campaigner Sir Bob Geldof issues a stark challenge to emerging economies at the Melbourne HIV/Aids conference
health
Arts and Entertainment
Benedict Cumberbatch and John Malkovich talk Penguins of Madagascar at Comic-Con
comic-con 2014Cumberbatch fans banned from asking about Sherlock at Comic-Con
Arts and Entertainment
Chris Pratt stars in Guardians of the Galaxy
filmGuardians Of The Galaxy should have taken itself a bit more seriously, writes Geoffrey Macnab
News
Sir Chris Hoy won six Olympic golds - in which four events?
news
Life and Style
People may feel that they're procrastinating by watching TV in the evening
life
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

English Teacher

£21804 - £31868 per annum: Randstad Education Chelmsford: Are you a dynamic En...

SAP Data Migration Lead

competitive: Progressive Recruitment: Experienced Lead SAP Data Manager Requir...

Trainee Recruitment Consultants - Banking & Finance

£20000 - £25000 per annum + OTE £40,000: SThree: SThree Group have been well e...

Graduate Recruitment Resourcers - Banking Technologies

£18000 - £25000 per annum + OTE £40,000: SThree: Huxley Associates are looking...

Day In a Page

Backhanders, bribery and abuses of power have soared in China as economy surges

Bribery and abuses of power soar in China

The bribery is fuelled by the surge in China's economy but the rules of corruption are subtle and unspoken, finds Evan Osnos, as he learns the dark arts from a master
Commonwealth Games 2014: Highland terriers stole the show at the opening ceremony

Highland terriers steal the show at opening ceremony

Gillian Orr explores why a dog loved by film stars and presidents is finally having its day
German art world rocked as artists use renowned fat sculpture to distil schnapps

Brewing the fat from artwork angers widow of sculptor

Part of Joseph Beuys' 1982 sculpture 'Fettecke' used to distil schnapps
BBC's The Secret History of Our Streets reveals a fascinating window into Britain's past

BBC takes viewers back down memory lane

The Secret History of Our Streets, which returns with three films looking at Scottish streets, is the inverse of Benefits Street - delivering warmth instead of cynicism
Joe, film review: Nicolas Cage delivers an astonishing performance in low budget drama

Nicolas Cage shines in low-budget drama Joe

Cage plays an ex-con in David Gordon Green's independent drama, which has been adapted from a novel by Larry Brown
How to make your own gourmet ice lollies, granitas, slushy cocktails and frozen yoghurt

Make your own ice lollies and frozen yoghurt

Think outside the cool box for this summer's tempting frozen treats
Ford Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time, with sales topping 4.1 million since 1976

Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time

Sales have topped 4.1 million since 1976. To celebrate this milestone, four Independent writers recall their Fiestas with pride
10 best reed diffusers

Heaven scent: 10 best reed diffusers

Keep your rooms smelling summery and fresh with one of these subtle but distinctive home fragrances that’ll last you months
Commonwealth Games 2014: Female boxers set to compete for first time

Female boxers set to compete at Commonwealth Games for first time

There’s no favourites and with no headguards anything could happen
Five things we’ve learned so far about Manchester United under Louis van Gaal

Five things we’ve learned so far about United under Van Gaal

It’s impossible to avoid the impression that the Dutch manager is playing to the gallery a little
Screwing your way to the top? Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth

Screwing your way to the top?

Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth, says Grace Dent
Will the young Britons fighting in Syria be allowed to return home and resume their lives?

Will Britons fighting in Syria be able to resume their lives?

Tony Blair's Terrorism Act 2006 has made it an offence to take part in military action abroad with a "political, ideological, religious or racial motive"
Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter, the wartime poster girl who became a feminist pin-up

Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter

The wartime poster girl became the ultimate American symbol of female empowerment
The quest to find the perfect pair of earphones: Are custom, 3D printed earbuds the solution?

The quest to find the perfect pair of earphones

Earphones don't fit properly, offer mediocre audio quality and can even be painful. So the quest to design the perfect pair is music to Seth Stevenson's ears
US Army's shooting star: Lt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a military uniform

Meet the US Army's shooting star

Lt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a military uniform