10 days after heading to sea, 3 fishermen are missing off Georgia amid wide search by Coast Guard

Oct 24, 2023, 2:46 PM

BRUNSWICK, Ga. (AP) — Three commercial fishermen are missing, 10 days after their boat headed to sea off Georgia, prompting a search by the U.S. Coast Guard over thousands of square miles of ocean.

Crews were still scouring the waters with boats and planes for the 31-foot (9.45 meter) fishing vessel Carol Ann after searching more than 32,000 square miles (82,880 square kilometers) over several days, the Coast Guard said Tuesday in a post on X, formerly Twitter.

The boat’s captain, Dalton Conway, departed the port city of Brunswick on Oct. 14 along with two crew members, Caleb Wilkinson and Tyler Barlow. The Coast Guard launched its search efforts Friday after the boat’s owner reported the fishermen hadn’t returned on schedule.

Barlow’s parents, Kim Jones and Chris Barlow, said they’re still hopeful all three men will be found safe.

“We just need to keep the search going,” Jones told the Savannah Morning News. “We don’t want this search to end, because we do firmly believe that God has got them and they’re just out there floating and drifting.”

Conway’s sister, Stevie Conway, said her younger brother is an experienced boat captain who’s made hundreds of trips to catch fish for local merchants and restaurants.

“My brother goes anytime the weather is good,” Stevie Conway told The Brunswick News. “This is his career. He does this for a living.”

The three men’s families became concerned when they didn’t return home as scheduled last Wednesday. Stevie Conway said people on another boat reported seeing the Carol Ann on the water Thursday, but otherwise no one has heard from the fishermen since they departed.

“We’re really stressing at this point,” she said. “They should have been back by now. We’re concerned. These mothers love their babies, and we want them to come home.”

Coast Guard Lt. Cmdr. Jason Erickson of Coast Guard Sector Charleston it’s possible the boat became disabled and drifted into the Gulf Stream, which may have swept the vessel far from its planned fishing spot some 80 miles (130 kilometers) offshore.

Erickson told WTLV-TV the boat was equipped with an electronic beacon that’s designed to send an automatic distress signal if it becomes submerged.

“We have not received any beacons that have gone off,” Erickson said. “That’s a reason to be hopeful.”

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10 days after heading to sea, 3 fishermen are missing off Georgia amid wide search by Coast Guard