Search For Missing Fishingmen Called Off

18 May 2012, 06:40 | Updated: 20 May 2012, 13:29

The search for two missing fishermen off the Dorset coast has been called off after rescue teams found their stricken vessel and its life raft on the sea bed.

Survey ship Odyssey Explorer discovered the wreck of the Purbeck Isle lying 10 miles off Portland at a depth of 50 metres.

The body of skipper David McFarlane, 35, was found on Friday.

Two more crewman - named locally as Robert Prowse, 23, and Jack Craig, 22 - have not been seen or heard from since leaving Weymouth on their 36ft ''potter'' boat on Thursday morning.

The Purbeck Isle was reported missing shortly after 5.30pm on Thursday.

Mr McFarlane, from Weymouth, was found dead at sea.

Desperate efforts to find his two companions continued amid hopes Mr Prowse and Mr Craig could have taken to the liferaft of the boat when they ran into difficulty.

But these were dashed when the raft was discovered on board the wreck at 11am on Saturday.

Portland Coastguard's Rescue Co-ordination Centre manager Mark Rodaway said:

''After a prolonged and extensive three-day search, sadly, the time has now passed when we could have hoped that the two remaining crew members from the Purbeck Isle would be found alive.

''Our final area of investigation was to search for the missing liferaft in the hope that they had been able to board it before the vessel sank, but sadly this new information means that this search will now be terminated.

''Our thoughts are with the families of all three crewmen at this difficult time.''