Search resumes for three fishers off Jersey

<span>Photograph: Peter Titmuss/Alamy</span>
Photograph: Peter Titmuss/Alamy

The search for three fishers whose boat sank in the Channel after a collision with a freight vessel has resumed off the coast of Jersey.

Lifeboats and a search aircraft were launched at first light to continue to scour the area to the west and north-west of the island.

The Jersey coastguard confirmed the 18-metre (60ft) wooden fishing boat, L’Ecume II, was resting on the seabed in about 40 metres of water after the collision with a Condor Ferries vessel, the Commodore Goodwill, at 5.30am on Thursday.

The boat was being skippered by Michael “Mick” Michieli, an experienced fisher. It is believed the two crew members are of south-east Asian origin.

In a statement on Friday morning the coastguard said: “A remotely operated underwater craft has surveyed the seabed where the collision took place and has confirmed the location of the fishing boat L’Ecume II.

“The vessel lies in approximately 40 metres of water, which is too deep for divers to access without specialist equipment. Jersey coastguard will continue to coordinate the response, in conjunction with the States of Jersey police, the government of Jersey and other agencies.”

It added that the search now involved the RNLI’s all-weather lifeboat, Channel Islands Airsearch, and the Ports of Jersey tug. Many members of the local fishing fleet have also once again joined the search.

An air and sea rescue was organised on Thursday involving Jersey and French aircraft and boats. About 20 fishing boats also joined the search for their friends and colleagues.

The unmanned underwater craft was brought in to examine what was believed to be the boat’s wreck on the seabed, and lifeguards and police officers scoured the shoreline in the hope the men had made it to shore.

One of the rescuers Andy Hibbs, the coxswain of the Jersey Lifeboat Association, said Michieli was a good friend and that he had been about to sell his boat to spend more time at home and fish locally.

In a post on the JLA Facebook page, the crew said: “Thank you everyone for your messages of support. We self-launched to look for Mick and the boys along with the other SAR [search and rescue] assets and fishing fleet. Our love and thoughts are with the crew’s families at this time. We are all devastated.”

Commercial shipping has been rerouted to avoid the search area and anyone who finds debris on beaches is being asked to contact the coastguard.

Jersey’s government has asked islanders affected by the incident to contact its “listening lounge” phone line. The chief minister, Kristina Moore, sent her “thoughts and prayers” to the families of the crew.

Condor said it would cooperate with the investigation into the incident, which took place before daylight in cloudy conditions.

John Napton, the chief executive of Condor Ferries, said: “We can confirm that Commodore Goodwill was involved in a collision with a fishing boat.

“Goodwill was en route from Guernsey to Jersey on her regular sailing when the incident occurred, north-west of Jersey. The master notified the coastguard in Jersey and Goodwill assisted in the search and rescue. Condor has notified authorities and will fully comply with any investigation into the incident.”