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One Dead, One Missing After Fishing Boat Sinks Off Oregon's Coast

white swan iii
A file photo of White Swan III in 2013, seen here receiving a tow from a motor lifeboat crew (USCG)

Published Mar 28, 2022 4:53 PM by The Maritime Executive

A fishing vessel went down off the coast of Florence, Oregon in Friday night, leaving one dead and one missing. 

Watchstanders at Coast Guard Sector North Bend received a mayday call at about midnight Friday from the master of fishing vessel White Swan III, identified as Mike Morgan, 68. He reported that the boat was sinking in the northern section of Heceta Banks fishing grounds, roughly 30 nm offshore. 

A lifeboat crew from Station Siuslaw River arrived on scene shortly after the initial distress call and found a debris field. Additional Coast Guard assets were deployed to assist with the search, including multiple aircraft, motor lifeboats, and the cutter Orcas

Early on Saturday morning, a Coast Guard search team recovered an unresponsive female victim who was identified as a crewmember from White Swan III. The victim was pronounced dead by local emergency crews.

Over the course of 24 hours, the rescue crews searched about 230 square miles of sea area, but they were unable to locate Morgan. The search was called off on Sunday.

“The decision to suspend an active search and rescue case is never easy, and it’s only made after careful consideration of myriad factors,” said Scott Giard, Coast Guard Search and Rescue program manager. “Our thoughts and condolences are with the families throughout this unimaginably challenging time.”

Morgan operated the small 32-foot fishing vessel as a family business, and he was well-known in the Newport fishing community, according to local Yachats News. He sold much of his catch of albacore and salmon directly to the public at the dock in Newport.