UPDATE: Search and rescue phase of operation to find missing fishermen due to end at sunset

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THE search and rescue phase of an operation to recover three fishermen who are missing at sea – after their boat sank following a collision with a freight ship – is due to end at sunset.

A major search-and-rescue operation was launched at 5.30am on Thursday after the L’Ecume II trawler skippered by Michael Michieli went down after colliding with Condor’s Commodore Goodwill off the west coast. Two Filipino crew members were also onboard.

The operation was suspended overnight to allow search-and-rescue services to regroup, and resumed at 8am this morning.

Jersey Coastguard has confirmed that the wreck has been located by an unmanned craft.

In a statement, Ports of Jersey confirmed that search and rescue activities were still being co-ordinated this afternoon, but that this phase of the operation would ‘draw to a close today at sunset’.

‘All possible rescue activities will have been exhausted in an effort to find the three missing fishermen. We are aware that this is very difficult for friends and family of the men, and we extend our deepest sympathies to all those affected by this tragic incident,’ the statement said.

Ports have commissioned a large offshore support vessel with a remote-operated underwater craft as part of the recovery phase of the operation.

The vessel and equipment is due to arrive in the Island early next week, to conduct a more detailed survey of the collision site.

An investigation – which is being led by Maritime Standards with support from the States Police – has also been commissioned by Economic development Minister Kirsten Morel in accordance with Jersey’s shipping laws.

‘Ports of Jersey can also call on external organisations, like the UK’s Marine Accident Investigation Branch, if any extra technical expertise is required,’ the statement continued.

‘A parallel safety-focused investigation is being run by the Flag State for the Commodore Goodwill (Bahamas Maritime Authority) in collaboration with Jersey, as the Coastal State party.’

A screengrab from marinetraffic.com this morning showing the RNLI and Channel Islands Airsearch off the west coast (34828583)

In a statement released this morning, the Bailiff, Sir Timothy Le Cocq, said: ‘Together with so many islanders, I was deeply saddened by this emerging news.

‘As a maritime people with a close fishing community this news is particularly shocking and will resonate through our island.

‘There will be an occasion to reflect on what has occurred, but at this time the families of those involved, and indeed those who are carrying out the coordinated and thorough search are at the forefront of my thoughts.’

Michael Michieli (34826059)
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