Missing North Carolina man's boat found in islands near Portugal

Joseph Matthew Johnson is a retired US Army Special Forces soldier who served in Afghanistan and South America, according to his family

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The boat of a retired U.S. Army Special Forces soldier who has been missing since November washed ashore in the Azores Islands near Portugal last week, thousands of miles where it was last seen in North Carolina.

Authorities in the Azores said a boat registered to 44-year-old Joseph Matthew Johnson washed up on the small island of São Jorge on June 21. Johnson was not on board. 

Joseph Matthew Johnson has been missing for seven months.

Joseph Matthew Johnson has been missing for seven months. (Carolina Beach Police Department via AP)

Johnson was last seen leaving Federal Point Yacht Club marina in Carolina Beach on his boat on Nov. 22, police said. He was reported missing five days later by a friend who arrived in town for a previously arranged fishing trip, police said. 

Video surveillance from Nov. 22 shows the boat leaving the marina where he lived. The last ping from Johnson's cellphone was from off the coast of Bald Head Island later that afternoon, according to Sgt. Colby Edens. 

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The U.S. Coast Guard scoured the area, covering nearly 7,500 square miles, but suspended the search when no new information was found.

When Johnson’s boat washed ashore, it had a heavy buildup of barnacles and algae, indicating that it had been capsized at sea for quite some time, Edens said.

Portuguese authorities are helping the Carolina Beach police department as they gather evidence and continue their search for Johnson.

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Johnson's mother, Mary Kay Anderson, said his family is confident he will be found alive, The StarNews reported. Johnson served for 24 years with tours in Afghanistan and South America, so Anderson believes he has the skills to survive in dangerous conditions and elements.

The Associated Press contributed to this report