Two missing after sailing cargo ship sinks in Bahamas

(MIAMI) – The U.S. Coast Guard suspended its search Wednesday evening for two missing mariners approximately 20 miles north of Great Inagua in the Bahamas.

Rescue crews searched by air and sea for approximately 44 combined hours since the initial report and covered more than 3,700 square miles.

Early Tuesday morning, Coast Guard Atlantic Area watch standers received distress notifications from the 90-foot Vanuatu-flagged schooner De Gallant but were unable to make contact. Coast Guard Seventh District command center watch standers received distress notifications from personal locator beacons in the same vicinity and launched a Coast Guard Air Station Clearwater MH-60 Jayhawk helicopter forward-deployed to Great Inagua to begin a search.

The 90-foot De Gallant in a file photo. Blue Schooner Co. photo
A crew from the Coast Guard cutter Resolute recovers two life rafts from the sunken De Gallant approximately 20 miles north of Great Inagua. U.S. Coast Guard photo

At about 8 a.m., it was reported that the helicopter crew had located two life rafts with six French-nationals floating among a field of debris. The survivors reported De Gallant, a sailing cargo ship operated by the Blue Schooner Co., had encountered a passing storm and began taking on water. The crewmembers donned yellow survival suits before boarding life rafts when it became apparent the vessel was sinking.

The helicopter crew hoisted the six survivors and brought them to Coast Guard Air Station Miami in Opa Locka, Fla., in good health. Two female crewmembers were unaccounted for and the Coast Guard, along with Royal Bahamas Defence Force, continued the search.

“It is with heavy hearts we offer our sincere condolences to the families and crew that lost these two mariners,” said Cmdr. Lindsey Seniuk, Coast Guard Seventh District command center search and rescue mission coordinator. “When we send our rescue crews out, it is with great hope we can bring people home safely, which is why suspending this case is one of the hardest decisions our personnel make. We are grateful we were able to bring home the six survivors and thankful for the assistance of our partners in the Royal Bahamas Defence Force.”

– U.S. Coast Guard

By Professional Mariner Staff