Nfld. & Labrador

Dead crew member from fishing vessel identified

The name of the man whose body was recovered after the fishing vessel Sea Gypsy sank Saturday has been released.

The name of the man whose body was recovered after the fishing vessel Sea Gypsy sank Saturday off the coast of Newfoundland has been released.

The RCMP said Robert Francis Keough, 58, of Calvert, died when the shrimp fishing boat went under, about 130 kilometres from St. John's.

Search and rescue officials retrieved three other men. A fifth crew member is still missing.

Most of the crew were from Calvert, about 70 kilometres south of St. John's.

Police say the names of the other members of the crew will not be released, at their request.

A search and rescue aircraft, a Hercules C-130, was sent Monday morning to an area where a crew member of the fishing vessel had been missing since Saturday to see if it was safe to resume an aerial search.

The aircraft later returned to Halifax because of the bad weather, while a Cormorant helicopter was grounded for the same reason.

Weather off the east coast of St. John's had been deteriorating since Sunday evening.

Two coast guard ships, the Cygnus and Leonard J. Cowley, along with the coast guard auxiliary boat Newfoundland Prize, continued to search the area overnight and into Monday.

Maj. Denis McGuire of the Joint Rescue Co-ordination Centre in Halifax said there have been no sightings of the missing man, who is in his 30s and from Witless Bay, a small community on the southern shore, about 30 kilometres from St. John's.

The man was separated from the others by high waves and wind, RCMP Sgt. Wayne Newell said. He was wearing a survival suit, designed to help someone endure up to 36 hours in the water.

'Very unforgiving'

"The sea, as you know, is very unforgiving, and the other people saw that the missing man became separated from them," Newell said. "They quickly noticed that he drifted out within about half a mile [0.8 kilometres] within two minutes."

Three survivors, including the boat's captain, Larry Roche, and the body of the dead fisherman were plucked from the sea by helicopters three to four hours after they jumped from the doomed ship, according to boat owner Laurie Sullivan of Calvert. The survivors were airlifted to St. John's Health Sciences Centre, where they spent the night recovering from mild hypothermia.

Sullivan helped build the vessel 12 years ago.

"We've fished all our lives," he told CBC News. "It's something you always hear about, not something you think is going to happen."

Weather doesn't look good

Sullivan said he spoke with the crew on Friday, the day before the ship sank. He said they were finishing up a shrimp fishing trip, and reported that they'd be back in Calvert the next day.

Search-and-rescue officials in Halifax say weather in the search area did not look good for Monday.

RCMP reported that only 10 minutes passed between the time the crew noticed a problem to the time they sent out a mayday, at about 10:45 a.m.

Sullivan said Roche, who is from Witless Bay, was so busy calling for help on the radio phone that he didn't have time to put on his survival suit.

"He didn't have a suit on and he swam to one life-raft," said Sullivan, "and that was tangled in some of the ship's riggings. So he jumped out of that and he seen the other life-raft and he swam to that with no suit, no nothing on. And he pulled the string and he inflated that, and jumped in."

McGuire said officials will assess all the search information that has been compiled so far before making a decision on how long the search will continue.

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