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Search Suspended for Missing American Sailors Off Mexico

U.S. Coast Guard Photo

Search Suspended for Missing American Sailors Off Mexico

Mike Schuler
Total Views: 4440
April 20, 2023

The Mexican Navy (SEMAR) has suspended its search for three American mariners aboard the sailing vessel Ocean Bound, which was last heard from on April 4 near Mazatlán, Mexico.

The U.S. Coast Guard announced the suspension on Wednesday after being informed by SEMAR.

The search was suspended pending further developments after SEMAR and U.S. Coast Guard responders conducted 281 cumulative search hours covering approximately 200,057 square nautical miles off Mexico’s northern Pacific coast. The area covered was larger than the state of California and no sign of the missing sailing vessel nor its passengers was found.

“An exhaustive search was conducted by our international search and rescue partner, Mexico, with the U.S. Coast Guard and Canada providing additional search assets,” said Cmdr. Gregory Higgins, command center chief, Coast Guard District 11. “SEMAR and U.S. Coast Guard assets worked hand-in-hand for all aspects of the case. Unfortunately, we found no evidence of the three Americans’ whereabouts or what might have happened. Our deepest sympathies go out to the families and friends of William Gross, Kerry O’Brien and Frank O’Brien.”

The missing sailors reportedly left Mazatlán on April 4 aboard the Ocean Bound, a 44-foot Lafitte sailboat, en route to San Diego with plans to stop in Cabo San Lucas on April 6 to report in and load provisions. However, there’s no indication they ever arrived in Cabo San Lucas.

Search and rescue coordinators contacted marinas throughout Baja, Mexico, which resulted in no sightings of the vessel. Urgent marine information broadcasts were also issued over VHF radio, but yielded no additional information.

The U.S. Coast Guard said the incident is a reminder for mariners of the importance of providing a person ashore with your float plan, which in this case allowed the Coast Guard to be notified when the missing sailors did not check in with family. It also underscores the importance of carrying a registered 406MHZ electronic position indicating radio beacon (EPIRB) for automatic notification in emergencies.

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