THE chances of finding Albert Davey’s nephew Steve Warren and his crewmates alive in the Atlantic are slim at best, according to a Ministry of Defence spokesman.

As the Adver went to press last night, there was nothing to suggest the search, led by the US Coast Guard, was going to end, with three US aircraft and a single MOD aircraft returning to the sky today.

However, a representative at the Government department said chances of the four men being found alive were next to non-existent.

The four ran into difficulties aboard the 40ft Cheeki Rafiki yacht last Thursday.

“The searching by the US Coast Guard has started again, but the chance of finding them alive is very slim,” he said.

“I would be very surprised if we found them alive.

“Using an educated guess, I would not imagine this search would not last. If you know anything about being shipwrecked or being in the water for long periods of time, you know hypothermia, a lack of food and water can affect you.

“Human beings can only last so long and the first search began at the end of last week.”

Four vessels longer than 400 feet are fronting the search for the Coast Guard. The air crews concerned had covered 2,878 square miles at the time the Adver went to press.

Weather was also said to be improving yesterday as the search continued, which has boosted spirits for Albert and his family, who are refusing to consider the worst.

“We are all waiting very anxiously,” said Albert, 76, of Longleaze in Royal Wootton Bassett. “We are satisfied everyone is doing their level best.

“We have to stay optimistic on this one. At the moment we are literally looking at the present and giving no attention to the future.

“We want to adopt the attitude that we’ve done our very best to get the right people out there, conducting a search with the professionals who know best.”

A spokeswoman for the US Coast Guard told the Adver: “We don’t have a time plan at the moment. Sailing vessels will stay out at sea overnight because they have surveillance equipment which doesn’t require daylight.

“We have to say we are searching with hope rather than expectation. There is no indication anything has been found at all at this stage.

“They have a very specific search pattern based on the drift pattern in the ocean. They are covering a lot of ground out there.

“They don’t expect to find anything at all.”

Steve, 52, of West Camel in Somerset, was part of a group which was sailing from a regatta in Antigua back to the UK when their vessel got into difficulties.

The initial search by the Coast Guard ended on Sunday, after they had searched for twice as long as standard procedures require, with a combination of air and sea sorties.

The family launched an online petition calling for the search to be restarted.