Families of missing men hopeful

The Thompson family remains optimistic about the fate of the sport-fishing boat Re-Run, despite the US Coast Guard’s late-week suspension of its search for the missing vessel.

On Thursday morning, the US Coast Guard called off its hunt for the 38-foot fishing boat, captained by Beatty Thompson, 85, of George Town, after scouring 40,000 square miles in the Gulf of Mexico, the Florida Straits and the Caribbean.

Also aboard the Re-Run is West Bay resident Bensley Scott, about 69.

The pair left Pensacola, Florida, 4 April, destined for Grand Cayman after making two fishing stops.

‘There are just so many unknowns, so many variables,’ said Greg Thompson, of the Marine Department of the Royal Cayman Police and grand-nephew of the Re-Run captain.

‘Everybody’s hoping that someone comes across them; we are optimistic that they’ll show up,’ he said.

Lieutenant Eric Matthies, speaking from the Coast Guard’s Norfolk, Virginia, headquarters, said that suspending the hunt for the boat did not mean searchers had given up.

‘After an in-depth search, using two Coast Guard air assets and one air asset out of Cayman, we placed the case in open status pending additional information.’

Greg Thompson said the Re-Run could have taken a week as it worked its way south from Pensacola,

‘No one had heard from them, and they should have arrived about Friday [April 8], but it’s such a great distance that it was possible they were still OK’ he said.

Mr. Thompson said he became alarmed only on Monday, 11 April, notifying the Coast Guard after calculating that Re-Run‘s fuel would be low.

‘The Coast Guard operates on various protocols,’ he said. ‘They decide before they start out, based on the point of departure, fuel consumption, weather and other factors, the area they will look in. Once they are done, well, that’s it,’ he said.

He remained upbeat, however,

‘You’re talking about someone who has spent most of his life at sea.

‘It’s not as though people are not on the lookout, and with the traffic through the Yucatan and into the Gulf, and people have been notified and there’s this lone vessel floating around in the ocean.’

Beatty Thompson’s brother, Norberg, was uneasy, but remained hopeful.

‘The Coast Guard completed all appropriate actions and did not think there was any benefit to search any more,’ he said.

‘It doesn’t make me feel good, but they know where to search and how long to search.’

Norberg Thompson’s son, Kel, mounted his own air search, spending two days ranging as far north as Cuba.

Further immediate searching, said Greg Thompson, will be decided by the family. Lieutenant Matthies said the Coast Guard would await new information before renewing its efforts.

‘To suspend a search means that if the Coast Guard or the Grand Cayman authorities receive any additional information, it would point us in that direction,’ said Lieutenant Matthies.

Neither would comment on the implications of the suspension.

‘We assume the vessel is in the area we searched, based on the information of family members and Grand Cayman authorities. We develop a search policy based on getting from one point to another point,’ the Lieutenant said.

‘I can’t really offer anything official [about the suspension],’ said Greg Thompson. ‘This is so far out of our area that we really can’t do much. It is nearer to areas for the Mexican authorities the US and Cuba,’ he said.

‘Cayman is only involved because of the family.’