PORTLAND, Maine — The U.S. Coast Guard has suspended its search for four Maine fishermen who went missing off the coast of Massachusetts early Monday morning.
Officials made the decision to suspend the search shortly after 5 p.m. Tuesday.
“The decision to suspend a search is never an easy one,” Capt. Wesley Hester, Search and Rescue mission coordination, Coast Guard's First District said in a statement. “We extend our condolences to the friends and loved ones of these fishermen during this trying time.”
Crews searched the waters off the coast of Provincetown by water and by air for over 38 hours, covering an area of nearly 2,066 square miles.
An emergency beacon that is activated when submerged in water first alerted the Coast Guard around 1:30 a.m. Monday.
The 82-foot fishing vessel Emmy Rose, based in Portland, is believed to have sunk some 20 miles out to sea.
It was reportedly head for Gloucester, Mass. The weather on scene was reported 30-knot winds with 6-8 foot seas.
All that rescuers discovered was a debris field and an empty life raft, the only one on board.
No signs of the four fishermen were found.
The Coast Guard confirmed Jeff Matthews, Ethan Ward, Mikey Porper and Bobby Blethen were all on board the Emmy Rose when it sank.
Portland fishermen, Captain Robby Roberge said he knew most of the crew well, including Blethen whom he has known since he was 16-years-old.
"The last 24 hours have been tough. Real tough," Roberge said Tuesday. "He's very seasoned. Probably one of the smartest guys I know," he said.
Roberge and his crew headed out to fish Tuesday as the entire fishing community continues to grapple with the tragedy.
"It's a hard hard time any time something like this happens," Ben Martens, Executive Director of the Maine Coast Fishermen's Association said.
Martens emphasized the ongoing need for Maine fishermen to have access to safety gear. The organization started its Safety at Sea Program after its chairman Joe Nickerson and his crewmate Chris Pinkham died at sea in January.
Martens also said they have a program to provide mental health support to both fishermen and their families.
"It's an industry that likes to bare-knuckle its way through a crisis," he said. "Help is there, and we're there to help people get through this."
You can learn more information about the resources available through the association at MaineCoastFishermen.org.