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US Coast Guard: Missing British yacht's hull found
US Coast Guard: Search continues after missing British yacht's hull found; 4 crew missing
Associated Press
2014-05-24 06:01 AM

BOSTON (AP) -- A U.S. Navy warship located the overturned hull of a British yacht that went missing last week in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean, but officials said Friday night's deadline to end the search remains in effect.

U.S. Coast Guard Petty Officer Robert Simpson said a helicopter from the warship spotted the hull Friday 1,000 miles (1,600 kilometers) off the coast of Massachusetts and a small boat crew confirmed it bore the name of the 40-foot Cheeki Rafiki. The hull had previously been spotted by a commercial vessel last Saturday.

A Navy swimmer found the boat's cabin was completely flooded and its windows shattered. Simpson said the swimmer also knocked on the hull and reached below the waterline with no results. The Coast Guard said that there was a breech in the hull caused by the keel of the ship breaking off.

Simpson said the search for the ship's four crew members continues, but that the 10 p.m. (0300 GMT) deadline for suspending the search remains in effect. He said crews are searching for a bright-colored life raft. The Coast Guard said Thursday that the search would only be extended beyond midnight if sightings suggest that crew members are still alive.

The British Foreign Office said it has informed family members of the missing men of the discovery. The Foreign Office said earlier Friday that the families were "saddened to hear that the US Coast Guard will be suspending the search. But they were prepared for the fact that this would have to happen."

American, British and Canadian rescuers had been searching for the Cheeki Rafiki since contact with the crew -- which included 22-year-old captain Andrew Bridge and crew members James Male, 23, Steve Warren, 52, and Paul Goslin, 56 -- was lost Friday, May 16.

The yacht had been returning to England from a regatta in Antigua when it reported trouble last Thursday.

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