Coast Guard suspends water search for missing fishermen

Photo Courtesy of Jim Dills

NEW BEDFORD, Mass. (WPRI) — The search for two missing crewmen who were aboard a sinking clamming vessel off the coast of Nantucket has been suspended pending the development of new information, the U.S. Coast Guard said Tuesday night.

According to Atlantic Capes Fisheries, the “Misty Blue” rolled over and sank at about 6:30 p.m. Monday. At a news conference Tuesday, vessel manager Chad Brayton said the captain and one crew member were able to get into a lifeboat and were picked up by a good Samaritan and brought to shore.

The other two crew members – identified as Michael Roberts, 49, and Jonathan Saraiva, 32 – are still unaccounted for.

“Right now they’re on scene, they’re still searching,” Brayton said. “We also are trying to have divers in the water. I do believe they’ve located the vessel, but that’s all we know.”

The 69-foot vessel departed from Fairhaven at 9 p.m. Saturday to harvest surf clams, according to Brayton. He said the last contact with the Misty Blue was made at about 3 p.m. Monday and the trip seemed to be going fine.

Massachusetts State Police said troopers deployed a scan sonar and located a large object underwater that they believe is the vessel, though weather and ocean conditions prevented troopers from diving to investigate.

Due to similar weather conditions predicted for Wednesday, police said the plan is for divers to return Thursday and dive to the target to confirm if it is the sunken vessel.

It’s unclear at this time what caused the vessel to sink. Brayton said the boat was in good shape and the weather was “beautiful.”

Atlantic Capes Fisheries said captain Eric Arabian, 44, and crew member Colby McMullen, 22, were rescued from the water by the Enterprise and all vessels in the area began searching for Roberts and Saraiva. They were soon joined by the U.S. Coast Guard, which has since taken control of the search and investigation.

Roberts does not know how to swim, according to his wife. She said the captain reported seeing Roberts wearing a life jacket just prior to the sinking.