The US Coast Guard resumed a search Tuesday for four British men whose sailboat capsized 1,000 miles off Massachusetts.
Andrew Bridge, 21, James Male, 23, Paul Goslin, 56, and Steve Warren, 52, are all “experienced offshore sailors,” said Louise Nicholls, a spokeswoman for the Royal Yachting Association.
As the men tried to return to the United Kingdom from Bermuda Thursday evening, they reported that they were taking on water from an unknown leak in the boat, Nicholls said Tuesday. “They reported that the situation was fatal,” she said by phone.
The search was resumed after a request by the British government, a Coast Guard spokeswoman said.
The resumption came after thousands of signatures were collected on a change.org petition. The petition said the Coast Guard had done a “fantastic job” searching for the crew of the 39-foot Cheeki Rafiki, “but we are asking that they just give them a bit more time.” More than 226,000 people had signed by late afternoon Tuesday.
“They deserve a chance to be found,” the petition said.
British media reported that family members of the four men aboard were pleading for resumption of the search and that Britain’s health secretary,Jeremy Hunt, had joined in the plea.
Prime Minister David Cameron tweeted Tuesday, “My thanks to the US Coast Guard, which has resumed its search for our missing yachtsmen.”
The Coast Guard said it and other nations’ crews immediately launched sea and air efforts across more than 4,100 square miles to locate the crew of the Cheeki Rafiki after learning the vessel was in trouble at 12:30 a.m. Friday.
At noon Saturday, the crew from the 1,000-foot container ship Maersk Kure found an overturned hull that matched the description of the Cheeki Rafiki, but no sign of the sailors or a life raft, the Coast Guard said in a statement.
The efforts continued for 53 hours until 5 a.m. Sunday morning, the Coast Guard said. Calling it a difficult decision, the Coast Guard said it had calculated how long the men were likely to survive to be about 20 hours — so it was suspending its search.
Two Coast Guard planes, a Canadian military plane, a Coast Guard cutter, and five commercial ships are headed to the area, the agency said.