The Emmy Rose, outbound from Gloucester Harbor in Massachusetts on Sept. 29. Photo by Robert Serbagi

The Coast Guard was searching overnight for four crew members who were aboard a Portland-based fishing boat that sank off the coast of Massachusetts early Monday.

The Coast Guard cutter Vigorous, which is home-ported in Virginia Beach, Virginia, would search through the night for the crew members of the 82-foot Emmy Rose, and an HC-144 Ocean Sentry fixed-wing aircraft based at Coast Guard Air Station Cape Cod was scheduled to fly over the search area at first light Tuesday, Coast Guard spokeswoman Amanda Wyrick said on Monday night.

The Coast Guard had not released the names of the boat’s captain, its crew, and the boat’s owner by Monday night, but the daughter of one of the crewmen told News Center Maine (WCSH/WLBZ) that she was not giving up hope.

“I just know if he’s out there. He won’t give up,” Reyann Matthews said of her father, Jeff Matthews.

Reyann Matthews and her cousin, Dana Matthews, were both emotional as they met with family members and friends on the Portland Fish Pier on Monday afternoon.

“I just fell to the ground. I didn’t want to believe it,” Reyann Matthews said about hearing the news of the Emmy Rose’s sinking.


She said that last she heard the crew was doing some welding on the boat as it was taking on water.

Searchers found only debris and an empty life raft Monday morning after responding to the vessel’s emergency position indicating radio beacon. Known as an EPIRB, the device automatically activates and sends out a signal when it makes contact with water.

Petty Officer Ryan Noel, in a phone interview, told The Associated Press that the crew did not make any sort of Mayday or distress call.

Maine’s fishing families are “hoping for the best and fearing the worst” as they await news about the missing crew, said Ben Martens, executive director of the Maine Coast Fishermen’s Association.

“For all those on the working waterfront who are fisherman and their families, right now stress and anxiety is through the roof,” Martens said. “It’s an entire community that starts to feel that stress and anxiety and fear and hope all at the same time.”

The Emmy Rose sank about 22 miles northeast of Provincetown, Massachusetts, the Coast Guard said. The First District Coast Guard Command Center in Boston received a notification from the Emmy Rose’s EPIRB at 1 a.m. Monday.


Coast Guard crews discovered debris and an empty life raft in the area of the vessel’s last known position. There were 30-knot winds and seas of 6 to 8 feet in the area Monday morning.

The vessel’s owner reported there were four people aboard and there were no answers to the boat’s satellite phone, the Coast Guard said.

After the emergency notification was received, the Coast Guard launched an MH-60 Jayhawk helicopter crew and the Cutter Vigorous to search for the Emmy Rose.

Monday morning’s search expanded to include two cutters, aircraft and a motor life boat, the Coast Guard said.

The captain and crew members are all experienced fishermen who have worked on the Emmy Rose and other local boats, said Alan Tracy, president of Vessel Services, a fishing industry supplier in Portland.

“This boat was very much a part of our fishing community here on the Portland waterfront,” he said. “The crew, captain and owner are all well known to us and everyone on the Portland Fish Pier.”


Tracy said the crew loaded the groundfishing vessel with ice from Vessel Services on Wednesday and it left Portland either that day or Thursday. Other captains fishing in the area saw them this weekend and it’s believed the Emmy Rose was headed into Gloucester, Massachusetts, to land fish, he said.

“All looked well, then overnight something terrible happened,” Tracy said.

Bert Jongerden, general manager of the Portland Fish Exchange, said Monday was a sad day on the waterfront in Portland, where people were awaiting news about the crew of the Emmy Rose. Jongerden knows the captain and owner, but did not want to identify them out of respect for the families who are waiting.

“It’s an unfortunate part of our business. It is a dangerous profession,” he said. “There are a lot of people on the waterfront who are upset today. We send our best wishes to the families of the captain and crew of the vessel.”

The Boston Globe reported that the Emmy Rose was built in 1987 and was once owned by Carlos Rafael. Known as the “Codfather,” Rafael was ordered to sell off some of his New Bedford-based fishing fleet after pleading guilty to federal charges of flouting fishing quotas and smuggling cash out of the country, the Globe reported. At that time, the vessel was called the Sasha Lee.

Martens, executive director of the Maine Coast Fishermen’s Association, said the news comes during a difficult year, which began with the sinking of another Maine vessel and the death of two fishermen.

The Hayley Ann sank 50 miles southeast of Portland on Jan. 24, killing Arnold “Joe” Nickerson IV, the 60-year-old captain from Arundel, and 44-year-old crew member Christopher Pinkham of Boothbay Harbor.

“In Portland and in Maine we’ve had more than our share of losses this year when it comes to the fishing industry,” Martens said. “We’re still hopeful, but it’s really, really scary.”

Staff Writer Dennis Hoey contributed to this report.

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