Tanker Rescues Missing Sailboat After Massive Three Day Search

tanker finds overdue sailboat
The overdue sailboat had not been seen for more than a week when the Coast Guard launched a search on Sunday (USCG)

Published Dec 13, 2022 7:05 PM by The Maritime Executive

A chemical tanker registered in Hong Kong reported a happy ending to a massive search spanning three days by the U.S. Coast Guard for an overdue sailboat missing on the U.S. East Coast. Two sailors, Kevin Hyde, age 65, and Joe Ditomasso, age 76, had been out of contact with their families for more than a week when they reported missing to the U.S. Coast Guard on Sunday, December 11.

The Coast Guard began urgent marine information broadcasts and direct communication with commercial vessels in the area in an attempt to locate the missing 30-foot sailboat Atrevida II. The Coast Guard employed three aircraft crews, two helicopter crews, and the vessels USCGC Oak, USCGC Richard Snyder, and USS San Jacinto in its search efforts. In addition, they requested assistance from multiple commercial and recreational vessels along the U.S. eastern seaboard. The U.S. Navy’s Second Fleet was also contributing to the search.

By Tuesday, as the searched continued for a third day, the Coast Guard reported that the search area had been expanded from Northern Florida to the waters east of New Jersey. Due to the large search area, the case was transferred to the Coast Guard Atlantic Area Command Center on Monday. 

They also worked to piece together the movements of the boat, reporting that the pair were transiting from Cape May, New Jersey to Marathon, Florida with several port calls planned along the journey. Searching their logs, they determined that on November 29, Hyde and Ditomasso ran aground upon entering Rudee Inlet, near Virginia Beach, Virginia. The Coast Guard had assisted by refloating the sailboat and said there was no damage reported. It was determined that pair was last seen on December 3, sailing near Oregon Inlet, North Carolina. 

The 50,000 dwt tanker Silver Muna was on the last day of a two-week journey from the Netherlands to New York, when this afternoon, December 13, they came upon the sailboat. Hyde and Ditomasso gained the attention of the Silver Muna crew by waiving their arms and a flag. The position was reported to be approximately 214 miles east of Delaware. 

The Coast Guard is reporting that the Atrevida II was found to be de-masted, without fuel and power, rendering its radios and navigation equipment inoperable. Hyde, Ditomasso, and a pet dog, were brought aboard the tanker shortly after 4:00 pm local time and evaluated by the vessel’s medical staff, which identified no immediate concerns. The wayward sailors and their dog are staying with the tanker to New York where they will be transferred to a Coast Guard vessel for further evaluation and reunification with their family and friends.

“This is an excellent example of the maritime community’s combined efforts to ensure safety of life at sea,” said Cmdr. Daniel Schrader, spokesperson for Coast Guard Atlantic Area. “We are overjoyed with the outcome of the case and look forward to reuniting Mr. Hyde and Mr. Ditomasso with their family and friends. We also want to highlight the importance of proper safety equipment and preparedness when going to sea. Having an emergency position indicating radio beacon, or ‘EPIRB’, allows mariners to immediately make contact with first responders in an emergency.”

The Coast Guard reports that its crews along with the Navy, and maritime partners searched a combined 21,164 square miles of water, spanning from northern Florida to the waters east of New Jersey.