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The search includes boats from Natural Resources Police and the Coast Guard, which also was using airplanes, including a C-130 plane that flew about 1,000 feet above the water. About 25 persons were part of the search.

Mr. Merrill last contacted his wife before leaving, and nothing indicated he was out of his normal route, Col. Chaney said.

The 18-year-old vessel was taken to a DNR facility on Kent Island to be examined, Col. Chaney said.

Mr. Merrill took leave from his publishing duties in December 2002, when he was sworn in by Vice President Dick Cheney as president and chairman of the Export-Import Bank of the United States. He stepped down when his term expired in July.

He served as assistant secretary-general of NATO in Brussels from 1990 to 1992.

Between 1983 and 1990, he served on the Department of Defense Policy Board. From 1981 to 1983, he was counselor to the undersecretary of defense for policy.

In 1988, the secretary of defense awarded him the Medal for Distinguished Service, the highest civilian honor given by the department.

Mr. Merrill has represented the United States in negotiations on the Law of the Sea Conference, the International Telecommunications Union and various disarmament and exchange agreements with the former Soviet Union.

He is a former special assistant to the deputy secretary of state and has worked in the White House on national security affairs.

The college of journalism at the University of Maryland is named for him, as is the headquarters of the Chesapeake Bay Foundation — both after multimillion-dollar donations.

Mr. Merrill graduated from Cornell University and the Harvard Business School’s Program for Management Development.

His three grown children, Douglas, Cathy and Nancy, were with his wife at the family’s home yesterday, Mr. Marquardt said.

• Associated Press writers Amanda Kell in Annapolis and Brian Witte in Baltimore contributed to this report.


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