The search will cease at midnight (5am GMT) if there are 'no further developments' to indicate the crew are still alive

The search for the missing British yacht Cheeki Rafiki and its four-man crew will be suspended if there are ‘no further developments’ by midnight tonight (5am GMT).

US Coast Guard Captain Anthony Popiel, who is responsible for

coordinating the overall search efforts said he had informed the families of the four crew members.

The extensive search across the Atlantic Ocean continued throughout last night and will carry on today.

Capt Popiel said: ‘If, by midnight, there are no further developments to indicate search efforts

would locate the crew alive, we will suspend the search.

‘Our focus right

now, however, remains with this very active and very dynamic search.

We will always put forth utmost efforts to find and rescue those in

peril at sea; it is only after deepest consideration that we suspend

active search efforts.

‘Unfortunately, we have had no significant sightings thus far and we

have concluded that none of the debris or objects located during the

search correlate to the Cheeki Rafiki.’

Yesterday, search conditions were favourable with winds around 20 knots

and seas roughly 6-8 feet. Air crews from the U.S. Coast Guard, U.S.

Air Force, Canadian military, and Royal Air Force worked with commercial

vessels in the area to continue the extensive search.

The Coast Guard

Cutter Vigorous arrived on scene last night and a U.S. Navy warship has

commenced searches with their embarked helicopter. In total, efforts

since resuming the search have covered more than 17,540 square miles of

ocean.

Capt Popiel added: ‘I’m very appreciative of the help we continue

to receive from the Canadian and British government as well as our

fellow U.S. military branches.

‘We’ve informed the British consulate of

these plans and appreciate the support we’ve received with this

decision.

‘With sincere compassion for the families of these four men, our

thoughts and prayers are with them all during this difficult time.’

Missing yachtsmen

Contact was lost with the four Cheeki Rafiki crew members, Andrew

Bridge, 21, from Farnham, Surrey, the yacht’s skipper; Paul Goslin, 56,

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

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

A day before, the experienced yachtsmen, who were was en route back to the UK from Antigua, reported

taking on water but said that the situation was stable and they had amended

their course to head for the Azores.

Pictures: US Coast Guard Captain Anthony Popiel; the missing Cheeki Rafiki yacht and its crew members