The Theresa A., an aircraft rescue boat converted for use as a fishing vessel, left Fairhaven on September 9, 1950, and was last sighted fishing on Georges Bank. On September 12, the ship sent two radio messages: first a distress signal and then a message that the crew was abandoning ship. The weather was extremely bad, with heavy seas and winds of roughly 55 miles per hour. The Coast Guard launched a sea and air search, joined by several merchant vessels. The search continued until September 16, but no trace of the ship or its crew was found.
The only body recovered was that of Ernest Rich, who was found in October floating off Seal Island in Penobscot Bay.