NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — The chief engineer on the El Faro cargo ship graduated from SUNY Maritime in 2003, and classmates on Wednesday were praying that he survived.

As WCBS 880’s Ginny Kosola reported, Richard Pusatere and his crew were the subject of prayers Wednesday evening at the campus under the Throgs Neck Bridge.

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“As we reflect upon the El Faro, let us not forget all seafarers, both now and in the past, that each day go into that unknown,” said the man leading the prayers.

Classmate Don Nowack said if anyone survived, it was his friend Rich.

“If there was ever a person that would never give up on anything it was Rich,” Nowack said. “He was the epitome of the American sea man.”

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Another classmate, Patrick Gensch, said Pusatere worked his way up to chief engineer.

“He knew what he was doing,” Gensch said. “He was probably one of the strongest engineers of the class that we graduated with.”

The El Faro, a U.S.-owned container ship, sank in the Bahamas during Hurricane Joaquin. It is believed to have gone down in 15,000 feet of water after reporting its last known position Thursday.

One unidentified body in a survival suit was spotted, CBS News reported.

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Five days later, pieces of wreckage continued to turn up as the Coast Guard widened its search pattern for the lost cargo ship and its crew. Hope was fading.