Search called off for overboard cruise ship crew member in Sitka Sound

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KODIAK, Alaska (KTUU) — The U.S. Coast Guard suspended its search on Friday for a crew member believed to have fallen overboard from the Holland America cruise ship Amsterdam sometime on Thursday.

Coast Guard Juneau watchstanders were notified of the missing crew member at 9:00 p.m. Thursday. Amsterdam crew members conducted an extensive search onboard the ship after the man didn't turn up for his shift.

Associated Press reports that the crew member — a 35-year old man — was last seen on the ship at 6 p.m. Thursday.

Amsterdam's captain was notified of the missing man at 7:45 p.m. Thursday.

The vessel turned around and searched but has since continued south toward Victoria, British Columbia.

The Coast Guard helicopter crew began searching off Biorka Island at 1 a.m. Friday.

Wind in the area was measured at 43 mph, waves up to eight feet and limited visibility due to heavy fog.

According to the Coast Guard, two Jayhawk helicopter crews conducted a 163 square mile search in the Sitka Sound, from Cape Ommaney to Biorka Island and surrounding areas before suspending the search.

"It’s never an easy decision to suspend a search,” said Cmdr. Byron Hayes, Sector Juneau search and rescue mission coordinator. "Our deepest condolences go out to the family and friends of this man."