The bodies of two fishermen were recovered after their boat sank off the coast of southern Maine on Thursday afternoon, the Coast Guard said.

News Center Maine (WCSH/WLBZ-TV) reported that the two men died when their 42-foot groundfishing boat, the Hayley Ann, sank in the frigid water. The cause of the accident is under investigation.

The Coast Guard got a distress signal from the Hayley Ann’s emergency beacon at 12:23 p.m. At the time, the vessel was about 45 nautical miles southeast of Portland.

 

The Coast Guard sent a fixed-wing aircraft and two helicopters from Air Station Cape Cod to search for the boat. The Coast Guard cutter Steelhead also responded.

An air rescue crew in a fixed-wing plane first spotted the fishing boat as it sank, along with an empty life raft. About 20 minutes later, the crew of a rescue helicopter arrived and saw two people in  the water.

The helicopter lowered a rescue swimmer into the ocean. The swimmer confirmed that the raft was empty and that two people in the water were unresponsive.

About 4:30 p.m., the Coast Guard tweeted that two people had been recovered from the water by the crew of another fishing vessel, the Ella Christine.

“Good Samaritan fishing vessel crew has recovered two persons in the water and unresponsive. (Coast Guard) crews are coordinating transport to shore,” the Coast Guard said on Twitter late Thursday afternoon. “The fishing vessel Ella Christine arrived on scene to assist in the recovery of the two persons.”

Randy Cushman, who fishes out of Port Clyde, is the captain of the Ella Christine, but he could not be reached Thursday night.

 

On Thursday night, the Coast Guard provided a more thorough description, via Twitter, of what rescue crews encountered after finding the fishermen.

 

The names of the fishermen had not been released at 10 p.m. Thursday. Their bodies were taken back to the mainland Thursday evening.

Zachary Hupp, a spokesman for the Coast Guard in Boston, said the Hayley Ann is based in Kennebunkport. The Kennebunkport harbormaster could not be reached Thursday night.

While the cause of the sinking may not be known for some time, seas in the area at the time of the distress call were running 5 to 8 feet, Hupp said.

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