Sat, Feb 21 2009

Published: June 03, 2008 12:00 pm    PrintThis  

The search for the Andrea Gail

Richard Salit

The search for the Andrea Gail continued today, six days after the Gloucester fishing vessel was reported overdue from a trip to the Grand Banks off Canada.

Rain and fog temporarily forced the Coast Guard to suspend its air search last night, according to spokeswoman Elizabeth Brannan. But by this morning, six aircraft and one cutter were again looking for the 70-foot swordfish boat.

The Andrea Gail was carrying a six-man crew. The fishermen were David Sullivan and Robert Shatford of Gloucester, William Tyne, Dale Murphy and Michael Moran of Bradenton Beach, Fla., and Alfred Pierre of New York City.

Tyne, a Gloucester native, had moved to Florida and recruited the other crew members, said Robert Brown, the owner of the Andrea Gail. Brown provided the Times with the names of the crew members this morning.

"I hope they continue searching for a couple more days," said Brown.

The Andrea Gail left Gloucester on Sept. 20 for a swordfish trip to the Grand Banks off Newfoundland. The vessel was fishing with a sister vessel, the Hannah Boden, both of which are owned by Brown, who lives on Bray Street.

Brown said yesterday that the Andrea Gail began heading back to Gloucester while the Hannah Boden stayed on the fishing grounds.

Late at night on Monday, Oct. 28, the Andrea Gail was reported to be encountering 30-foot seas and 50- to 80-knot winds kicked up by the northeaster that pummeled the New England coast. The boat was 180 miles east-northeast of Canada's Sable Island at the time.

The report came from the New Bedford fishing vessel Mary T., which notified the Canadian Coast Guard in Halifax that it had been in radio contact with the Andrea Gail.

On Wednesday evening, after failing to hail the Andrea Gail, Brown notified the Coast Guard in Boston.

"They were officially reported overdue on Nov. 1," said Brown. But he said that two days earlier, "I told them I was afraid the boat was in trouble and I feared the worst."

On Thursday and Friday, the Canadian Coast Guard searched the area but found no trace of the Andrea Gail.

On Friday, the U.S. Coast Guard began checking ports from Woods Hole to Cape Breton, Canada.

On Saturday, a U.S. Coast Guard airplane searching 21,000 square miles.

The search was intensified the next two days with five airplanes from the Canadian and U.S. Coast Guards searching 9,670 square miles on Sunday and another 18,000 square miles yesterday. The search area today was 18,500 miles.

Brannan said the search was being conducted along a track the Andrea Gail was expected to follow while returning to Gloucester from the Sable Island area. She said the search area was shifted slightly to the east to accommodate possible drifting.

Visibility was 1 to 5 miles today with 3- to 5-foot seas and overcast skies.

"Search conditions are pretty good," Brannan said.

The Andrea Gail's home port is documented as Marblehead, where Brown formerly lived. But the swordfish boat regularly fishes out of Gloucester, unloading its catch at Old Port Seafoods on the State Fish Pier.

The Andrea Gail was equipped with a six-man life boat and two emergency beacons, which automatically transmit signals when immersed in water, according to the Coast Guard. One was a Category 1, 406-megahertz EPIRB (emergency position indicating radio beacon) -- the most advanced required by the Coast Guard.

However, no signal from the Andrea Gail was picked up by the Coast Guard.

The search for the Andrea Gail
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