Belfast Telegraph

Tuesday 16 September 2014

Sailor lost in Pacific is named

USS Peleliu was diverted by the US Navy to assist with the search for sailor Luke Stinson (US Navy/AP)

A British sailor who is still missing after falling from a yacht in the Pacific Ocean on Saturday night has been named as Luke Stinson.

The US Coast Guard and US Navy continue to search for the 38-year-old man, who plunged into the water almost 500 miles from land at around 11.30pm. The coast guard said it was unclear why Mr Stinson, who was conscious and wearing a life jacket, fell overboard in conditions which were not particularly bad.

A woman, also British and described as an inexperienced sailor, was hoisted from the ship by a rescue helicopter at 5am on Sunday.

The pair's 38ft vessel, believed to be privately owned, was about 2,000 miles west of the Hawaiian island of Oahu and 500 miles west of the remote Midway Atoll at the time.

Navy helicopters and Coast Guard continued the search on Monday along with warship USS Peleliu, which was diverted by the US Navy to assist.

Coast Guard officer Eric Chandler said: ''It's real challenging out there. We can't get our cutters out there.'' He added: ''I don't know what made the sailor fall overboard. The female with him said he was conscious at the time and he was wearing a yellow life jacket.''

The pair were the only two people on the yacht. Mr Chandler said that while the location of the incident was remote, it was not particularly unusual for the yacht to have been so far from shore at that time of day.

''People sail pretty often pretty far out of reach,'' he said. ''I don't think that it's that unusual.''

The Pacific News Centre website said there were winds of 25mph and 6ft waves at the time of the incident.

The yacht is now on its own in the ocean because the warship has no way to secure it. Navy crew members have put a tracking device on it and turned on its navigation lights.

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