Search for Emmy Rose crew suspended

PAUL BILODEAU/Staff photo. The search for four fishermen from the FV Emmy Rose off of Cape Cod was suspended Tuesday evening by the Coast Guard. Here, people walk by the Fisherman's Memorial on Stacy Boulevard, a monument to the city's fishermen lost at sea. While the crew is believed to have been from Maine, the Emmy Rose landed catch in Gloucester. 

After searching 2,066 square miles for more than 38 hours, the Coast Guard has suspended its search for the crew of the fishing vessel Emmy Rose which sank sometime after midnight Monday.

The search for the four fishermen was suspended at 5:22 p.m. Tuesday, according to Petty Officer Amanda Wyrick, adding it would resume if more developments or information comes to light.

The the 82-foot dragger Emmy Rose, home-ported in Portland, Maine, was been a familiar presence in Gloucester, fishing out of and landing catch here. It is believed the vessel was on its way to Gloucester to land its catch when it went down.

The Coast Guard has not released the names of the boat’s captain or crew, but all are believed to be from Maine.

“The decision to suspend a search is never an easy one. Our crews conducted searches continuously for over 38 hours covering an area of approximately 2066 square miles,” said Capt. Wesley Hester, Search and Rescue mission coordination, Coast Guard's First District, in a prepared statement. “We extend our condolences to the friends and loved ones of these fishermen during this trying time."

The Coast Guard received an alert about 1:30 a.m. Monday from the Emmy Rose's EPIRB (emergency position-indicating radio beacon) from a site about 20 miles northeast of Provincetown. The EPIRB sends a distress frequency signal when it hits the water to search and rescue services in the case of an emergency. It also transmits a homing signal to assist searchers in pinpointing the beacon's location.

The commercial fishing vessel's owner reported that the Emmy Rose's satellite phone went unanswered, andt he first Coast Guard crew was on the scene on the scene about 2:30 a.m., when debris and an empty life raft were discovered.  

Wyrick said the EPIRB that sent the alert has since been recovered.


The Coast Guard launched an HC-144 Ocean Sentry fixed-wing aircrew about 6:30 a.m. Tuesday to join the crew of the USCG cutter Vigorous which had searched throughout the night. 

The search Monday, which included Station Gloucester's patrol boat Key Largo, was hampered by 35-knot winds and 6- to 8-foot seas, but weather conditions had improved Tuesday, Wyrick said. Key Largo was back in Gloucester on Tuesday afternoon

The Emmy Rose's owner, Rink Varian, told the Bangor Daily News that the boat's crew was experienced.

“This is a horrific accident,” he said.

The Emmy Rose was part of the Sustainable Harvest Sector fishing cooperative.

“I am holding out hope that the Coast Guard will be able to find these people,” cooperative manager Hank Soul told The Boston Globe.

NOAA Fisheries permit data state the Emmy Rose is owned by Boat Aaron & Melissa Inc. of Westbrook, Maine. The vessel fishes under 15 federal commercial fishing permits.

According to data from the National Transportation and Safety Board, the Emmy Rose is the second vessel Boat Aaron & Melissa Inc. has lost since 2018.

On Nov. 14, 2018, the Aaron & Melissa II flooded and sank in 40-knot winds and 20-foot seas about 70 miles southeast of Portland after leaving Gloucester six days earlier.

The captain and three crew members went into the water, but made it into the vessel's life raft before being rescued by a Coast Guard helicopter.

The NTSB later said the captain's "decision not to return directly to port despite forecasts of gale-force conditions," as well as a clogged bilge system, were the "probable causes" for the flooding and sinking of the Aaron & Melissa II.

Documentation for the Emmy Rose, built in 1987, was filed with the Coast Guard in May of this year. The dragger was formerly the Sasha Lee, owned by Carlos "The Codfather" Rafael of New Bedford. Rafael has been serving time since Nov. 4, 2017, on a conviction of falsifying fishing records to exceed fishing quotas, false labeling of groundfish landings, conspiracy, tax evasion and bulk smuggling. As part of his settlement with the federal government, Rafael was ordered to sell three dozen of his fishing vessels, including the Sasha Lee.

Material from the Associated Press was used in this report.

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