Hopes were fading last night for three fishermen missing since Thursday as coastguards prepared to investigate a possible sunken boat on the sea bed.
The men, named locally as 37-year-old skipper David MacFarland, crewman Robert Prowse, 23, and Jack Craig, 22, had not been seen or heard from since leaving Weymouth on their 36ft potter the Purbeck Isle.
Local crews and the Coastguard, using a helicopter and a lifeboat, search off the coast of Portland Bill, with support from warships.
Maritime and Coastguard Agency spokesman Fred Caygill said teams hoped to send down specialist equipment to look at an object of a similar size to the Purbeck Isle, discovered on the sea bed by sonar equipment.
“We are concentrating on trying to identify this object to either discount it or count it in, as the case may be.”