THE US Coastguard will resume searching for the four sailors missing in the Atlantic "imminently".

Earlier this afternoon it announced it had resumed "search planning" for the men who vanished after their yacht capsized.

Daily Echo:

Paul Gosling, James Male, Steve Warren and Andrew Bridge

Efforts were originally abandoned after two days scouring the area the boat was found, which prompted a petition signed by more than 200,000 people urging the service to resume the operation.

A US Coastguard spokesman confirmed to the Daily Echo that the organisation has “resumed search efforts” and will release more information when it becomes available.

Prime Minister David Cameron tweeted: "My thanks to the US Coastguard who has resumed its search for our missing yachtsmen."

Daily Echo:

James Male.

The sailors include 23-year-old James Male, from Southampton, 21-year-old Andrew Bridge from Surrey and 52-year-old Steve Warren and 56-year-old Paul Goslin, both from Somerset.

His father Graham Male, from Romsey, Hampshire, said his family was "Over the moon" at the news.

He added that he was optimistic that they would now find out what has happened to the Cheeki Rafiki and added: ''We have to get some kind of resolution now.''

Garry Miller, the father of James’ girlfriend Adele, speaking outside the Foreign Office, said: “We couldn’t have done this without the public and the media. We would have never got this far. We are making great progress.

“We want to keep the momentum going. We want to find our boys.

“The government have done as much as they possibly can and we are very grateful to them.”

James’ dad Graham added: “We are really optimistic that we are going to find them.

“We are just average people. We don’t plan to be in these situations, so the knowledge that we have all these people behind us has been great.”

It comes as the sailors' families are heading to Westminster for talks with Foreign Secretary William Hague.

Darren Williams, uncle of James Male, said they would be meeting Mr Hague, Minister of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs Hugh Robertson, and representatives from the Maritime and Coastguard Agency.

And on the search being resumed, Mr Williams, from Totton, said: “It’s fantastic news, our reaction that this is just the next step, it’s not the end and what they have got to do now is find them.”

He added: “We haven't given up, and we also know there are some sail boats heading back over the Atlantic who are keeping their eyes peeled.

“We just want another air search.”

Daily Echo:

James Male.

After their meeting at the Foreign Office, the families of the yachtsmen will travel to the US Embassy to meet the homeland attache, Mr Goslin's niece Gemma Townsend said.

Ms Townsend said the families would be offering their thanks for the resumption of the search. She said she did not know the name of the person due to meet them.

Kay Coombes, the sister of Steve Warren, confirmed that she was on the phone to the US Coastguard when they decided to resume the search.

She said: “They put me on hold and then they came back to say they had just decided now to start searching again.”

Sir Richard Branson, speaking from the British Virgin Islands, said: “It is great that the search has started again and it is great that the British Government have got involved to save these people.

“If they managed to get into a life raft it is very likely that could still be alive.

“Obviously, it is a big if, if they did manage to get into the life raft.

“We certainly shouldn’t give up hope. If they did get into it there is every chance they are still alive today.”

He added that if somebody could find the hull again and check to see if the life raft had gone, then that would help.

Simon Boxall, from Southampton’s Oceanographic Centre, said: “It is hard to say whether they are going to be successful in this search.

"Oceanographically there are good maps of how the currents move in this area, so finding where the raft might have gone in this part of the world shouldn’t be that difficult.

“This is not a remote part of the ocean, it is like a highway between Europe and the states.”

Tony Bullimore, who survived five days clinging to the hull of his capsized yacht in the Southern Ocean in 1997, believes the four sailors are still alive.

He said: “If they are in a life raft there is a very good chance that they could be found.

“It just could be that the life raft was just half-a-mile outside the search area and the rescue crews couldn’t see it.”

Sending a message to the families of the four yachtsmen, he added: “Have faith. Believe that they are going to be save.

“Say a few prayers for them and they are going to be found.”

Daily Echo: James Male.

Legendary Hampshire sailor Sir Ben Ainslie used social networking site Twitter to say “Thank you @USCG for resuming the search for the British sailors in the Atlantic. #keepsearching #CheekiRafiki”.

Sir Robin Knox-Johnston, the first man to sail non-stop round the world, said: ''The US Coast Guard and US Navy are the best at this, they have the most experience and they have the assets.

''I feel that we humans are better at surviving than is often reflected in statistics, so I think there should be just one more sweep downwind of where the hull was discovered, so that people can feel that everything that could be done has been done. Our thoughts are with the families of the crew.''

Dan Carpenter, son-in-law of Steve Warren, one of the missing men, said: ''We are holding out hope. We are aware that it is still a long shot but while there is some hope, we are concentrating on that.''

Leading sailors such as Dame Ellen MacArthur and Sir Robin Knox-Johnston, entrepreneur Sir Richard Branson and politicians including Southampton and Romsey MP Caroline Nokes and Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt all joined the 190,000 people who have signed a petition urging authorities to restart the search for the Cheeki Rafiki's crew.