Researchers have closed about 17,000 square miles between the Bahamas and South Florida for more than three days.
The boat left Bimini in the Bahamas on Monday with Lake Worth, Flo, and then went missing, Coast Guard officials said. Worth Lake is 63 miles north of Miami.
“Our thoughts and prayers go to the families of the missing,” said Capt. Stephen Burdian, the Coast Guard’s seventh district response leader. “I encourage anyone with information about those on board to contact us as soon as possible.”
The Coast Guard did not identify any passengers, but it was thought there were about 20 people on board the 29-foot vessel that was lost. The boat is scheduled to arrive in Florida on Tuesday.
The boat, a mago drinking cabin ship, is commonly used for recreation. The Coast Guard did not rule out the possibility that the boat was a hijacking vessel.
“We don’t know if it exists or not,” said Coast Guard petty officer Jose Hernandez Told the Sun-Sentinel of South Florida. “Regardless, the Navy is committed to the safety of all Marines. We do not want any lives to be lost at sea.”
The search was carried out by the Coast Guard with the help of the Royal Bahamas Security Force and the Bahamas Air Maritime Rescue.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.