The U.S. Coast Guard has suspended their search for CPO Kenneth Gates after he went missing near Bahia Beach on Tuesday afternoon.
Gates was station at MacDill Air Force Base in July working with the U.S. Special Operations Command.
Neighbors told ABC Action News Gates was a great neighbor and they were thankful for his service to our country.
The U.S. Special Operations Command issued the following statement the day after Gates dove into Tampa Bay to try and free his anchor that was stuck.
"Our primary focus is finding our lost service member and supporting their family during this difficult time. We stand ready to provide whatever help they need, and we request the media respect their privacy. USSOCOM will remain in contact with the Coast Guard and local authorities as the search and rescue operations for our missing service member continue."
According to the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office, Gates dived into the bay after 11 a.m. when his boat’s anchor became stuck on something below the water’s surface. He went into the water about two miles west of Ruskin.
A woman on board said he followed the line, but she noticed him drift away from it, according to the Coast Guard. She then lost sight of him, before spotting another boater. That boater stopped and helped the woman radio the Coast Guard for help. They also called 911.
The Coast Guard released a recording of the woman’s radio call:
The Coast Guard says he was wearing a wet suit, mask and a diving belt, but did not have an oxygen tank when he entered the water. He was wearing a small, spare breathing apparatus on his mouth.
Hillsborough County deputies said the boat he rode left from a MacDill Air Force Base ramp. Detectives have gone out onto the water with the Coast Guard and did not find anything suspicious.
The Coast Guard says the water where the diver went under is only about 16 feet deep Bahia Reef. The flood tide was a knot and a half, which is considered a fairly strong pull.
Gates is from Lawrenceville, GA and enlisted in the Navy in Aug. 2015. He is a decorated Naval officer with multiple awards and decorations.