The Portland-based fishing vessel Emmy Rose steams out of Gloucester Harbor in September. The 82-foot boat sank off Provincetown, Massachusetts, on Monday. Credit: Courtesy of Robert Serbagi

PORTLAND, Maine — After suspending its search Tuesday night, the U.S. Coast Guard has identified the four missing crew members aboard the Emmy Rose.

The crew members — all from Maine —  were skipper Robert Blethen, Jeffrey Matthews, Michael Porper and Ethan Ward.  The names were confirmed by Coast Guard Petty Officer Amanda Wyrick.

The Coast Guard searched approximately 2,600 square miles, for more than 38 hours, for signs of the Portland-based groundfishing vessel that sank early Monday morning off the coast of Provincetown, Massachusetts, before halting the hunt.

“The decision to suspend a search is never an easy one,” Capt. Wesley Hester, search and rescue mission coordinator for the Coast Guard’s First District, said Tuesday. “We extend our condolences to the friends and loved ones of these fishermen during this trying time.”

Because the sinking involves marine casualties, the Coast Guard will investigate what happened to the boat, Wyrick said.

An HC-144 Ocean Sentry search plane aircrew joined a Coast Guard cutter Vigorous on Tuesday in the search through winds gusting more than 30 miles per hour, and 6- to 8-foot waves. 

The National Weather Service warned of a potential tornado on Cape Cod earlier Monday, and the U.S. Coast Guard called back a Jayhawk helicopter dispatched to the location shortly after 1 a.m. Monday when the Emmy Rose sent an automated distress call. 

No radioed voice call was ever received.

The vessel was due into Gloucester, Massachusetts, at 6 a.m. after fishing for haddock, hake and pollock.

Two other Maine commercial fishermen died at sea earlier this year. On Jan. 23, the Hayley Ann sank about 50 miles off Portland. 

Capt. Joe Nickerson, 60, of Arundel and crew member Chris Pinkham, 44, of Boothbay Harbor were pulled from the water by another fishing boat but did not survive. 

Nickerson was chair of the board for the Maine Coast Fishermen’s Association.

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Troy R. Bennett

Troy R. Bennett is a Buxton native and longtime Portland resident whose photojournalism has appeared in media outlets all over the world.