Coast Guard suspends search for fishermen


ST. AUGUSTINE, Fla. – The Coast Guard suspended the search for four fishermen whose vessel reportedly caught fire and sank Monday.

The search was suspended shortly after 1 p.m. Tuesday.

Coast Guard search crews covered an area of 2,260 square miles from south Jacksonville Beach to St. Augustine since the initial distress call was made 11 miles east of St. Augustine. The Coast Guard search lasted approximately 24 hours.

"Suspending a search is a difficult decision to make," said Mark Visconti, a search and rescue controller with Coast Guard Sector Jacksonville. "Our goal for every search and rescue mission is to find survivors and return them to their loved ones.  We'll investigate any new leads on this case and resume searching if appropriate."

The Coast Guard searched Tuesday morning and afternoon with the crew of the 87-foot Coast Guard Cutter Shrike.

No vessels have been reported overdue to the Coast Guard, nor has anyone been reported missing to the Coast Guard. It is not known who the fishermen are or where they are from.

There has been no sighting of the vessel or any debris as of Tuesday morning despite optimal search conditions.

Watchstanders in the Coast Guard Sector Jacksonville command center were notified of the situation Monday afternoon via a distress "Mayday" call.

The captain stated his 37-foot fishing vessel was on fire, was taking on water and the crewmembers were abandoning the vessel into a life raft.

The Coast Guard requests anyone having information that may be helpful in this case to contact the command center at 904-564-7511.

LISTEN: The distress call sent by four fishermen as their boat began to take on water.