UK & World News

  • 23 May 2014, 22:30

US Navy Finds Hull Of Missing British Yacht

The US Navy has located the hull of the missing British yacht, the Cheeki Rafiki, which went missing in the Atlantic.

The overturned vessel was located about 1,000 miles off Massachusetts, a Coast Guard official told Sky News' Hannah Thomas-Peter.

There was a breech in the hull caused by the keel of the ship breaking off, the official said.

A surface swimmer sentto investigate found the boat's cabin was completely flooded and its windows shattered.

The swimmer also knocked on the hull but there was no response.

The discovery comes just hours ahead of a10pm - 3am on Saturday UK time - deadline to end the search for the missing sailors.

The Coast Guard said the deadline could be extended if "new information or sightings suggested the crew would still be alive", but that "none of the current developments indicate that to be the case".

Meanwhile, crews continued to search a wider area for the yacht's bright-coloured life raft.

The UK Foreign Office said it has informed the families of the four British sailors on the 40ft boatof the development.

Earlier, the families said they were still hopeful they would be found despite the search being only hours from ending.

Relatives of Steve Warren, 52, Andrew Bridge, 22, James Male, 23, and Paul Goslin, 56, said they had been told "endless stories" of people surviving for months at sea.

A statement issued by the Foreign Office on behalf of the families said they "still hold out much hope that their loved ones will be found soon".

It added: "They have received so much support from the public and the yachting community, hearing endless stories of people that have survived many weeks and months in different circumstances at sea and have drawn much strength from this.

"They were obviously saddened to hear that the US Coast Guard will be suspending the search. But, they were prepared for the fact that this would have to happen."

Debris had been found in the search area on Thursday, but turned out to be unrelated to the missing yacht.

The sailing vessel ran into difficulties a week ago while returning to the UK from a regatta in Antigua.

An initial search for the stricken boat was called off on Sunday amid bad weather in the Atlantic Ocean, but began again on Tuesday after pressure from the men's families.

More than 200,000 people signed a petition demanding the operation be resumed and the families of the sailors have written to US President Barack Obama to thank him for his support.

The search, around 1,000 miles east of Cape Cod, Massachusetts, includes commercial vessels as well as aircraft from the US Coast Guard, US Navy, US Air Force, the Canadian military and the RAF.

More than 17,500 square miles of ocean have been covered since the search resumed three days ago.

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