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Coast Guard calls off search for sailors missing from yacht

Pictured: (From left, clockwise) Andrew Bridge, 21; James Male, 23; Steve Warren, 52; and Paul Goslin, 56.

Pictured: (From left, clockwise) Andrew Bridge, 21; James Male, 23; Steve Warren, 52; and Paul Goslin, 56.

The US Coast Guard suspended the search for four British sailors whose yacht disappeared 1,000 miles east of Cape Cod, after the boat was located Friday afternoon with no sign of the missing crew, the Coast Guard said.

The USS Oscar Austin, a Navy guided missile destroyer based in Norfolk, Va., found the hull Friday afternoon within its search area. It had previously been spotted on May 17, said Petty Officer MyeongHi Clegg, a Coast Guard spokeswoman in Boston.

A surface swimmer knocked on the side of the yacht, but no one responded, Clegg said.

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The swimmer saw the name of the yacht on the hull and verified that it was the Cheeki Rafiki, the missing yacht, Clegg said.

Search planners confirmed that the boat’s life raft was secured in its storage space in the boat, indicating the crew did not use it .

Crews will not remove the hull from the ocean. That would be up to the families of the sailors, said Petty Officer Robert Simpson, also a Coast Guard spokesman.

The discovery came as teams continued to search a vast expanse of ocean.

By Friday night, search efforts had covered approximately 25,ooo square miles, the Coast Guard said in a statement.

The 39-foot Cheeki Rafiki capsized late last week. Aboard were four “experienced offshore sailors” — Andrew Bridge, 22, James Male, 23, Paul Goslin, 56, and Steve Warren, 52. The men were headed to Britain from the Antigua Sailing Week regatta on May 15 when they reported the boat was taking on water from a leak.

The search first began about 12:30 a.m. on May 16.

At about noon May 17, the crew of the freighter Maersk Kure spotted what appeared to be the hull.

The search was called off at 5 a.m. Sunday in what the Coast Guard called a difficult decision based on its calculation of the men’s chances of survival.

A public outcry ensued in Britain, with people hoping that the four men had been able to get on a lifeboat before their boat sank.

The search resumed Tuesday after a request by the British government and was suspended again at 10 p.m. Friday.

Jacqueline Tempera can be reached at jacqueline.tempera
@globe.com
. Follow her on twitter @jacktemp.
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