Hopes fade for the four missing British sailors as search crews find the yacht's life raft never launched

The US Coast Guard has confirmed that the capsized

sailing vessel Cheeki Rafiki has been found in the Atlantic Ocean with its life raft still on board.

A US Navy ship discovered the hull of the yacht on Friday night, and

subsequent underwater imagery confirmed that the life raft was still

onboard the vessel, indicating that it had not been deployed for

emergency purposes.

The finding has diminished hopes that the four missing yachtsmen are still alive.

A US Coast Guard (USCG) spokesman said: ‘A US Navy warship smallboat crew and surface swimmer captured

underwater imagery clearly identifying the raft in its storage space on Friday.’


The image has been shared with and acknowledged by the families of the four missing crew members.

The missing yachtsmen are: skipper Andrew

Bridge, aged 21, from Farnham, Surrey; Paul Goslin, 56,

from West Camel, Somerset; Steve Warren, 52, from Bridgwater, Somerset,

and 23-year-old James Male, from Southampton.

A Navy surface swimmer was deployed to investigate the overturned boat

after a helicopter crew located it 1,000 miles offshore Massachusetts

and within the USCG’s search area.

The swimmer reported that the boat’s cabin was flooded and

windows were shattered, contributing to the complete flooding inside. 

The USCG announced on Thursday that search

operations would be suspended at midnight (5am GMT) yesterday, unless new

information or sightings suggested the crew would still be alive.

With

none of the developments indicating that to be the case, the search was

suspended, and an RAF Hercules search due to have continued throughout

Saturday will no longer take place.

The extensive search had included air crews from the USCG, US

Air Force, Canadian military, and Royal Air Force, plus the Coast Guard

Cutter Vigorous, a US Navy warship and helicopter, covering more than 17,540 square miles of

ocean.

Yachts taking part in the ARC Europe event, also diverted

course to join the search efforts, along with many other merchant

vessels in the area.

‘Sincere condolences to the families’


Royal Yachting Association (RYA) CEO Sarah Treseder said: ‘It is extremely distressing that the two searches coordinated by the US

Coast Guard have not found the missing four crew of the Cheeki Rafiki;

Steve, Paul, James and Andrew.


‘All at the RYA offer their most sincere condolences to the families and

the friends of the missing crew in this most difficult of times.


‘Our thanks go to the US Coast Guard, the UK authorities and government

agencies with whom we have been in regular contact, as well as the

merchant vessels involved in the search and the yachting community.


‘Many yachts changed course to sail through the search area and those

that were able joined in the search effort. It has been a powerful

reflection of the spirit that binds the boating community.’

Pictures: The overturned hull of Cheeki Rafiki. Credit US Navy