British yacht missing: Search for Cheeki Rafiki's crew called off

British yacht missing: Underwater images captured by a Navy swimmer showed the raft of the British yacht was still stowed in its storage space, indicating that there is little chance of finding the four missing sailors alive.

By , Associated Press

The family of the skipper of a British yacht found upturned in the sea a week after it went missing said Saturday they are shocked and saddened after the vessel's life raft was found unused.

Britain's Foreign Office said it has decided to recall a Royal Air Force plane which had been due to search for the Cheeki Rafiki's four missing crew for one more day, after the U.S. Coast Guard also called off its search.

A helicopter spotted the overturned hull of the 39-foot (12-meter) yacht roughly 1,000 miles (1,600 kilometers) off the coast of Massachusetts on Friday, days after the crew reported trouble and disappeared on May 16.

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Underwater images captured by a Navy swimmer showed the raft was still stowed in its storage space, indicating that there is almost no chance of finding the four missing sailors alive.

"We are obviously shocked and deeply saddened by the news," the family of skipper Andrew Bridge, 22, said in a statement. "Andrew will be dearly missed by everyone who knew him."

The families of the other three crew members — James Male, 23, Steve Warren, 52, and Paul Goslin, 56 — have requested privacy.

The Cheeki Rafiki had been returning to England from a regatta in Antigua. Coast Guard officials said extreme sea conditions at the time of the distress call put the crew's estimated survival time at 20 hours.

A Navy swimmer found the boat's cabin completely flooded and its windows shattered. Simpson said the swimmer also knocked on the hull and reached below the waterline but got no response.

The search covered more than 20,000 square miles (51,800 square kilometers) and involved American, British and Canadian vessels and aircraft.

The British Foreign Office said it had informed the missing sailors' families of the hull's discovery. The Foreign Office said earlier Friday that the families were "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."

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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