Coast Guard crews are searching for a tow boat operator who went missing off the southern New Jersey coast.

HH-65 Dolphin Coast Guard helicopter (US Coast Guard)

The search started just before 11 a.m. Tuesday, when the Coast Guard received a distress alert from an emergency radio beacon.

Authorities say 32-year-old David McAuliffe was the only person aboard the 45-foot Sea Tow boat Cape Hatteras, which departed Absecon Inlet around 7:45 a.m. Tuesday. The boat's owner says it was en route to Great Egg Harbor.

When McAuliffe did not respond to cell phone or radio calls, an MH-65 Dolphin helicopter crew from Coast Guard Air Station Atlantic City and a 45-foot Response Boat-Medium crew from Coast Guard Station Cape May began searching for McAuliffe, along with the 87-foot Coast Guard Cutter Finback, which is homeported in Cape May.


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