Coast Guard suspends search for missing fisherman

On March 25, a 32-foot fishing vessel called the White Swan III sunk 35 miles off the coast of Florence. (Courtesy photo)

White Swan III lost 35 miles off the coast of Florence

Updated March 29 9:55 a.m.

March 28, 2022 — On Saturday, March 25, the U.S. Coast Guard conducted a search about 35 miles offshore of Florence for the master of a 32-foot fishing vessel out of Newport that sank that morning.

Missing is Mike Morgan, age 68, of Newport.

Watchstanders at Coast Guard Sector North Bend received a mayday call at approximately 12 a.m. Saturday from Morgan, the master of the white-and-black fishing vessel White Swan III. He reported that his vessel was sinking in the north end of the Heceta Banks fishing area. Morgan said that a female crew member was also aboard the vessel.

The 13th Coast Guard District Command Center received an emergency position indicating radio beacon (EPIRB) alert from the White Swan III.

Upon arrival at the scene of the EPIRB location, an MH-65 Dolphin rescue helicopter crew from Air Facility Newport spotted a debris field and a life raft. A 47-foot lifeboat crew from Station Siuslaw River arrived on scene around the same time and an unresponsive female was recovered and declared deceased. Her name has not yet been released.

Over the next 24 hours, approximately 230 square miles of sea area was searched in hopes of finding Morgan.

Also involved in the search were: Coast Guard Sector North Bend, Coast Guard Sector Columbia River MH-60 Jayhawk helicopter crews, Sector North Bend MH-65 Dolphin rescue helicopter crews, Coast Guard Station Umpqua River 47-foot Motor Lifeboat crew, 110-foot Coast Guard Cutter Orcas and 13th Coast Guard District Command Center.

The search for Morgan was called off the evening of March 25, according to a post on the White Swan III’s Facebook page.

"The decision to suspend an active search and rescue case is never easy, and it's only made after careful consideration of myriad factors," said Scott Giard, Coast Guard Search and Rescue Program Manager. "Our thoughts and condolences are with the families throughout this unimaginably challenging time."

The same Facebook post thanked the Coast Guard for doing everything they possibly could to try and find Morgan.

“The Coast Guard did their best with foggy conditions, and I appreciate them more than I have ever,” said a poster named Elizabeth on the White Swan III’s Facebook page.

The White Swan III is well known in the Newport area for its fresh-off-the-boat sales of albacore tuna and chinook salmon. Morgan and his crew typically sold their catch directly from the dock. Morgan also captained charter voyages.

Mariners and the public are encouraged to contact the Sector North Bend Command Center at 541-756-9210 if anyone has information in the effort to locate Morgan.