December 20, 2012

Search suspended for missing vessel with Maine crew

The 45-foot scalloper, captained by Wally Gray of Deer Isle, was reported missing Monday. Its last known location was about 15 miles north of Provincetown.

Video from WGME-TV Tuesday newscast

The Associated Press

GLOUCESTER, Mass. — The Coast Guard suspended its search Wednesday evening for a Gloucester-based fishing vessel that vanished with only a lifeboat and other equipment being found.

click image to enlarge

Undated photo of Foxy Lady II provided by the U.S. Coast Guard.

The 45-foot scalloper Foxy Lady II and its two-member crew, from Deer Isle, Maine, left Gloucester on Saturday and failed to return that night.

The fishermen on board have been identified as 26-year-old Wally Gray, the captain, and his 50-year-old crewman, Wayne Young, said Angela Sanfilippo, president of the Gloucester Fishermen's Wives Association.

The Coast Guard searched more than 2,800 square miles with no sign of the fishermen. The effort began on Monday morning after the captain's girlfriend reported that the crew had not been heard from since Saturday around noon.

The boat's last known location was 15 miles north of Provincetown, where the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration picked up a signal from the boat's fishing monitoring system around noon Saturday, said Coast Guard Chief Petty Officer Robert Simpson. The National Weather Service had issued a small-craft advisory for coastal waters that day, calling for seas of 3 to 5 feet, with sustained winds of 10 to 15 mph and gusts up to 30 mph. Conditions were worse farther offshore.

But the Coast Guard didn't receive a distress call from the boat or signals from the boat's emergency satellite beacon, which is designed to transmit signals when it is in the water, he said.

The boat must have gone down fast and unexpectedly if the fishermen didn't even have time to send out a distress signal or make a call on a cellphone, Sanfilippo said. She said it was her understanding the fishermen were shucking scallops and that the boat didn't have any fishing gear in the water at the time it disappeared.

"Two lives have disappeared and we might not ever know what really happened," she said.

The small, enclosed lifeboat was found Tuesday in a marshy area near the mouth of the Saugus River in Saugus, and some fishing gear was found on Nantasket Beach in Hull, about 30 miles south of Saugus, said Coast Guard Chief Petty Officer Jeff Hall in Boston.

"Both things have been identified as being from the boat," said Hall, who said winds and ocean currents can sometimes cause items from the same vessel to spread far apart.

The Gloucester Fishermen's Wives Association has set up a fund for the families of the missing fishermen. Donations should be sent to Fishing Fund Foxy Lady II, in care of BankGloucester, 160 Main St., Gloucester, Mass. 01930.

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