Operations were underway to recover the sunken towboat Ricky Robinson in 65’ of water in the Mississippi River near Memphis, Tenn., as family and friends scoured the river banks looking for two missing crewman.

Capt. Keith Pigrem, 35, and his stepson, deckhand Anquavious Jamison, 19, were working on the 66’, 1,400-hp pushboat, part of the Wepfer Marine Inc. fleeting operation in Memphis, when the boat sank around 11:42 a.m. Dec. 8 near mile marker 733.

Pigrem got off a mayday radio call as the boat sank, triggering a 29-hour search by the Coast Guard, state, Memphis and Shelby County authorities that covered 324 miles of the river before it was suspended Saturday.

The Ricky Robinson was located on the bottom near mile marker 731. Wepfer and the Coast Guard were preparing a salvage operation Wednesday.

Relatives continued searching along the river. They told local news media of finding some items that could be from the boat, but no sign of the men.

"We need to know if they are on this boat. We want them to be, but we also don't want them to be. If they are not, we have hope that they are still alive. If they are on this boat, we will get closure," Pigram's sister Kanneshia Jones told television station WREG.

A spokesman for Wepfer, Ralph Berry, told the Commercial Appeal newspaper that the National Transportation Safety Board will participate in the investigation.

Contributing Editor Kirk Moore was a reporter for the Asbury Park Press for over 30 years before joining WorkBoat in 2015. He wrote several award-winning stories on marine, environmental, coastal and military issues that helped drive federal and state government policy changes. He has also been an editor for WorkBoat’s sister publication, National Fisherman, for over 25 years. Moore was awarded the Online News Association 2011 Knight Award for Public Service for the “Barnegat Bay Under Stress,” 2010 series that led to the New Jersey state government’s restoration plan. He lives in West Creek, N.J.