Missing tow boat found, operator still missing off Ocean City, New Jersey

Missing boat Cape Hatteras

April 26, 2013 2:59:11 PM PDT
The owner of a tow boat that went missing off Ocean City, N.J. says the boat has been found, but there is still no sign of its operator.

Sea Tow, a boating assistance company, says the vessel, Cape Hatteras, has been located and that recovery efforts are now underway.

In a statement released Friday morning, the company said, "Tide, weather and underwater visibility are all factors in determining the length of the recovery process. We have no other details or information to share at this time. We ask that everyone please respect the privacy of the Capt. Dave's family during this difficult time. "

The Cape Hatteras, a 45-foot vessel owned by Sea Tow, went missing Tuesday morning along with its operator, 32-year-old David McAuliffe.

The Coast Guard told Action News an emergency response device was activated aboard the Cape Hatteras. The signal, which came in at 10:50 a.m. Tuesday, indicated the boat was off 39th Street in Ocean City.

Coast Guard crews dispatched within minutes to that location found debris floating in the water, but no sign of the vessel.

"Once we located debris, we started to take into account what debris we were finding. From there, we've been searching for a possible person in the water," Lt. C.K. Moore of the U.S. Coast Guard.

Officials from Sea Tow said the Cape Hatteras was on its way to a routine inspection by the Coast Guard when it went missing.

The vessel, with a gray hull with a white cabin area, left Absecon Inlet at 7:45 a.m. with one crew member on board. It was headed for Great Egg Harbor.

Officials say McAuliffe did not respond to cell phone or radio calls after the emergency signal was received.

The Cape Hatteras reportedly had two survival suits and two life rafts on board.

The search underway Tuesday afternoon included a helicopter crew and a 47-foot Motor Life Boat crew, both from Coast Guard Air Station Atlantic City.

The Cape Hatteras is normally based out of the Farley Marina in Atlantic City with other boats belonging to Sea Tow. It provides services for boaters such as towing, ungrounding and jump starts.

The Cape Hatteras also functions as a crewboat and shuttles supplies and people to off-shore work sites.