The United States Coast Guard is urgently searching for a couple from Virginia Beach, Virginia, who were last heard from hundreds of miles offshore in the Atlantic Ocean while they were on a sailing trip to the Azores, Portugal.
Yanni Nikopoulos and Dale Jones, both 65, departed from Hampton, Virginia, en route to the Azores on June 8. However, Nikopoulos and Jones reported to Jones’ daughter five days later on June 13 that they had encountered inclement weather approximately 460 miles east of Virginia Beach and that they had made the decision to turn around after their vessel sustained damage during the storm, according to a statement released by the United States Coast Guard.
The couple have not been heard from since.
Four days later, on June 17, the United States Coast Guard Fifth District command center watchstanders received a report from Jones’ daughter informing them that she still hadn’t heard anything from Nikopoulos and Jones and that she was extremely concerned about their whereabouts and wellbeing.
“While no date had been established for their return, an anticipated return date of June 20 was communicated by the daughter,” the USCG said in their statement.
Subsequently, Coast Guard Air Station Elizabeth City conducted two overflights by HC-130 Hercules crews in the approximate region where the missing boaters were last reported and an Urgent Marine Information Broadcast was also issued by the Fifth Coast Guard District which notified boaters in the region about the wayward couple. No evidence of Nikopoloulos, Jones or their vessel -- named Kyklades -- has turned up yet.
“In situations like this, where there are so many unknowns, our coordination efforts need to cast a wide and intentional net,” said Chief Brian Gainey, command duty officer. “We’re tracking cell phone and radio pings as we work with our counterparts in Bermuda to accurately determine the most intelligent search area for our air crews. It’s a lot of detective work, but it’s all in service to finding these two individuals and bringing them home to their families.”