BOSTON — After searching 767 nautical square miles over nearly 17 hours, the Coast Guard suspended its search for a possible mariner in distress.
Petty Officer Andrew Barresi said the search has been suspended pending any further developments.
It started at 8:31 p.m. Wednesday, one minute after the Coast Guard received the first of three mayday calls, he said. The search was suspended at 1:09 p.m. Thursday.
During that time, Barresi said they did not receive any reports of overdue or missing mariners, nor did they find any debris fields. "Pretty much we found nothing," he said.
The Coast Guard cutters Hammerhead and Shrike and a 47-foot motor lifeboat from Coast Guard Station Menemsha as well as a fixed wing aircraft from Air Station Cape Cod all participated in the search, he said.
Various assets from the Buzzards Bay Task Force, a local network of fire departments, police departments and harbormasters on SouthCoast, were also involved in the search. They included the Fairhaven Fire Department, New Bedford Fire Department, the New Bedford Police Department, the Mattapoisett Fire Department, the Dartmouth Fire Department and the Massachusetts Environmental Police.
The Coast Guard also widened its search for a possible mariner in distress Thursday morning, expanding from Buzzards Bay to include Vineyard Sound, a search field of 266 nautical square miles, according to Chief Petty Officer Luke Pinneo.
LISTEN TO ONE OF THREE MAYDAY CALLS RECEIVED BY THE COAST GUARD
The number of nautical square miles the Coast Guard searched does not include the miles searched by the members of the Buzzards Bay Task Force, he said.
The extensive search stems from three separate mayday calls within a 20-minute span between about 8:30 p.m. and 9 p.m. Wednesday, Pinneo said. A mumbled male voice issued the mayday call around 8:30 p.m. Coast Guard Sector Southeastern New England watchstanders responded to the call, but were unable to establish communications. The exact location, nature of distress, description of the vessel, and number of people aboard the vessel are all unknown.
ONE OF THREE MAYDAY CALLS RECEIVED BY THE COAST GUARD AFTER 8:30 P.M., WEDNESDAY
Since the search began, the Coast Guard has not received any reports of missing or overdue boaters or found any debris fields as often happens, he said. "That gives us more information to work off of," he said.
ONE OF THREE MAYDAY CALLS RECEIVED BY THE COAST GUARD WEDNESDAY NIGHT
"Search and rescue is always a challenge. There are huge bodies of water and a small target. Mayday calls are hard to pinpoint a location," he said. "It just makes it an extremely challenging operation."
Follow Curt Brown on Twitter @CurtBrown_SCT.