Missing yacht: US Coast Guard to suspend search for Cheeki Rafiki and four missing crew members

British Foreign Office calls decision to stop search efforts 'incredibly difficult'

The search for the British yacht that went missing off the east coast of America last week is to be called off tomorrow, according to US Coast Guard officials.

A week after the Cheeki Rafiki went missing, Anthony Popiel, chief of response at the US Coast Guard, informed the families of the four missing sailors that search efforts would have to be suspended by midnight (5am GMT) if no progress had been made.

He said: "I informed the family that the search would continue throughout the night and into tomorrow. If by midnight tomorrow there are no further developments to indicate search efforts would locate the crew alive we will suspend the search."

The British Foreign Office has been contacted by the US Coast Guard and has called their decision to stop searching “incredibly difficult".

Foreign Office Minister Hugh Robertson said: "I know that, despite there being no further sightings of the Cheeki Raffiki or its crew, any decision to suspend the search will be incredibly difficult and will only be taken after the most serious deliberation."

The Cheeki Rafiki and its crew - 22-year-old captain Andrew Bridge and crew members James Male, 23, Steve Warren, 52, and Paul Goslin, 56 - were travelling back from a regatta in Antigua on 16 May, before running into difficulty 620 miles off Cape Cod, Massachusettes.

A call was sent by the Southampton-based crew telling Stormforce, their managing agent in England, that they had begun taking on water and would be diverting to the Azores instead of carrying on with their intended route back to Britain.

By Friday morning, Stormforce had lost contact with the boat and the US Coast Guard was alerted.

The crew of the Cheeki Rafiki (left to right): Paul Goslin, James Male, Steve Warren and Andrew Bridge If search efforts are brought to an end, it will mark the second time the US Coast Guard has suspended its search for the boat, after initially ceasing search efforts on Sunday, after a 53-hour search provided no clues as to the whereabouts of the boat and its crew.

Following this decision, the US Coast Guard was asked by the British government to resume searching after a petition set up by the relatives of the four sailors secured over 100,00 signatures – the number is now just under 250,000.

Since Tuesday, there have been coordinated efforts by US Coast Guard and British authorities to try and find the missing crew.

According to the US Coast Guard, more than 17,000 miles of ocean had been covered with US Coastguard cutter ships, US planes as well as commercial ships helping with the search.

On Wednesday, the Ministry of Defence sent one of their C-130 Hercules planes to assist with the search, but only debris belonging to another unrelated boat was found.

The Maritime and Coastguard Agency, the British version of the US Coast Guard, supported the “extremely difficult decision” to suspend their search.

An MCA spokesman said: "We understand and support the extremely difficult operational decisions that the US Coast Guard is taking and the rigour with which they do so.

"Our focus is on the search... and our thoughts are with the families of the missing men at this time."

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
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

Guru Careers: Software Developer / C# Developer

£40-50K: Guru Careers: We are seeking an experienced Software / C# Developer w...

Guru Careers: Software Developer

£35 - 40k + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Software Developer (JavaS...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant / Resourcer

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Commission: SThree: As a Trainee Recruitment Consu...

Ashdown Group: UI Developer - (UI, HTML, CSS, JavaScript, AngularJS)

£25000 - £40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: UI Developer - (UI, JavaScript, HTML...

Day In a Page

Sun, sex and an anthropological study: One British academic's summer of hell in Magaluf

Sun, sex and an anthropological study

One academic’s summer of hell in Magaluf
From Shakespeare to Rising Damp... to Vicious

Frances de la Tour's 50-year triumph

'Rising Damp' brought De la Tour such recognition that she could be forgiven if she'd never been able to move on. But at 70, she continues to flourish - and to beguile
'That Whitsun, I was late getting away...'

Ian McMillan on the Whitsun Weddings

This weekend is Whitsun, and while the festival may no longer resonate, Larkin's best-loved poem, lives on - along with the train journey at the heart of it
Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath in a new light

Songs from the bell jar

Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath
How one man's day in high heels showed him that Cannes must change its 'no flats' policy

One man's day in high heels

...showed him that Cannes must change its 'flats' policy
Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Dominic Rossi of Fidelity says his pressure on business to control rewards is working. But why aren’t other fund managers helping?
The King David Hotel gives precious work to Palestinians - unless peace talks are on

King David Hotel: Palestinians not included

The King David is special to Jerusalem. Nick Kochan checked in and discovered it has some special arrangements, too
More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years

End of the Aussie brain drain

More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years
Meditation is touted as a cure for mental instability but can it actually be bad for you?

Can meditation be bad for you?

Researching a mass murder, Dr Miguel Farias discovered that, far from bringing inner peace, meditation can leave devotees in pieces
Eurovision 2015: Australians will be cheering on their first-ever entrant this Saturday

Australia's first-ever Eurovision entrant

Australia, a nation of kitsch-worshippers, has always loved the Eurovision Song Contest. Maggie Alderson says it'll fit in fine
Letterman's final Late Show: Laughter, but no tears, as David takes his bow after 33 years

Laughter, but no tears, as Letterman takes his bow after 33 years

Veteran talkshow host steps down to plaudits from four presidents
Ivor Novello Awards 2015: Hozier wins with anti-Catholic song 'Take Me To Church' as John Whittingdale leads praise for Black Sabbath

Hozier's 'blasphemous' song takes Novello award

Singer joins Ed Sheeran and Clean Bandit in celebration of the best in British and Irish music
Tequila gold rush: The spirit has gone from a cheap shot to a multi-billion pound product

Join the tequila gold rush

The spirit has gone from a cheap shot to a multi-billion pound product
12 best statement wallpapers

12 best statement wallpapers

Make an impact and transform a room with a conversation-starting pattern
Paul Scholes column: Does David De Gea really want to leave Manchester United to fight it out for the No 1 spot at Real Madrid?

Paul Scholes column

Does David De Gea really want to leave Manchester United to fight it out for the No 1 spot at Real Madrid?