US Coast Guard urged to return and look for yachtsmen

The US Coast Guard was facing calls last night to return to the doomed British yacht Cheeki Rafiki, to check whether the bodies of any of its four crew members were trapped inside. The coastguard located the boat a week after the vessel went missing.

Live updates

Missing sailors: Families 'devastated' as search ends

Graham Male reading a statement on behalf of the families today.

The families of the British yachtsmen thought to have died in the Atlantic have said the news that their life raft was found untouched left them "all utterly devastated".

Graham Male, the father of James Male, said: "Nonetheless we take some small solace that this conclusive development allowed us to gain an element of closure."

Reading a statement today outside the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, he offered the families' gratitude to the British government, the US Coastguard, and all others that took "not inconsiderable personal risk to find our loved ones".

"We would like to say how indebted we are to the public for its overwhelming and unprecedented support," he said after referencing the 240,000 signatures on a petition urging the US authorities to continue their search.

US Coast Guard 'urged to return to look for sailors'

The US Coast Guard was facing calls last night to return to the doomed British yacht Cheeki Rafiki, to check whether the bodies of any of its four crew were trapped inside.

Missing sailors (left to right) Paul Gosling, James Male, Steve Warren and Andrew Bridge Credit: PA

According to The Sunday Times (£), a US navy search team did not conduct an extensive underwater search of the vessel or enter the flooded cabin. Instead, a “surface swimmer” knocked on the hull, photographed the life raft and reached an arm’s length below the waterline.

“Surface swimmers are not trained divers and do not perform sub-surface operations,” the US Coast Guard said in a statement.

Advertisement

Cheeki Rafiki yachtsman Andrew Bridge 'dearly missed'

The family of Andrew Bridge, one of the sailors missing from the yacht Cheeki Rafiki, have issued a statement saying he will be "dearly missed".

The US Coast Guard called off a search for four missing yachtsmen after the hull of the boat was found upside down with the life raft still inside.

The family of Mr Bridge, 22, of Farnham in Surrey said: "Andrew will be dearly missed by everyone who knew him. Our thoughts and condolences go out to the families of the rest of the crew on the Cheeki Rafiki."

They added they had been "overwhelmed and strengthened" by the public support they have received.

Prime Minister: 'My thoughts are with the families'

David Cameron thanked those who had taken part in the search Credit: Joe Giddens/PA Wire

The Prime Minister has said his thoughts are with families of the crew of the Cheeki Rafiki after the boat's upturned hull was found, with the life raft still in place.

Mr Cameron said: "My thoughts are with the families and friends of the crew of the Cheeki Rafiki after the sad news that its hull has been found with the life raft unused."

He added: "My sincere thanks to the US Coast Guard for leading the international search with great dedication - and to the US Navy, the Canadian authorities and to our own RAF C-130 aircraft who took part in it."

Chances of finding yacht crew 'non-existent now'

A spokesman for the World Cruising Club, which organises boat races around the world, has said the changes of finding the crew of the Cheeki Rafiki yacht are now "non-existent".

Jeremy Wyatt told the BBC: : "I think we have to be realistic and face facts that they're not in a raft and therefore the chances of finding anyone are non-existent now."

The overturned hull of the Cheeki Rafiki was discovered by a US navy ship. Credit: Handout

"In some ways it's a hard fact, but I think, after a week of searching, it's really the only conclusion you can safely draw," he added.

Advertisement

US Coast Guard suspends search for missing yacht crew

The US Coast Guard has suspended its search for the missing British crew members of the yacht the Cheeki Rafiki, a spokesman said today.

The Cheeki Rafiki went missing along with its crew of four last Thursday. Credit: PA

It comes a day after the hull of the yacht was found, and only hours after its life raft was discovered still secured aboard, about 1,000 miles east of Cape Cod in Massachusetts.

Officials had said the coastguard intended to call off the search at midnight (3am British time) unless there was new information or sightings that would suggest the crew is still alive.

Life raft found secured aboard missing yacht

The life raft of the yacht that was missing for days in the Atlantic has been found secured inside the capsized vessel.

A boat crew from a US Navy warship and a surface swimmer using underwater imagery showed the raft clearly stowed away, indicating it was not deployed for emergency purposes.

Four men were on board the 40ft Cheeki Rafiki when it went missing last Thursday.

Officials said the coastguard still intended to call off the search at midnight (3am British time) unless there is new information or sightings that would suggest the crew is still alive.

Family 'still optimistic' after hull find

Darren Williams, the uncle of missing yachtsman James Male, told ITV News the family have not yet spoken to the US Navy but added that:

In the absence of a life raft with the boat we are optimistic that they are in that in Atlantic.

We are all still positive at the moment.

Load more updates Back to top

Latest ITV News reports