THE DESPERATE search for a missing swimmer off Stockton Beach has been suspended for a third night.
Emergency services were scouring the remote stretch of coast between Newcastle and Anna Bay on Tuesday as the operation continues to find a young man last seen on Sunday afternoon.
Marine Area Command police on vessels and jet skis were working alongside Marine Rescue NSW crews from Lemon Tree Passage and Port Stephens to carry out parallel line searches off Stockton Beach.
Surf lifesaving crews were also part of the effort.
A NSW Police spokesperson confirmed the search was temporarily called off on Tuesday afternoon.
It will resume at 8am on Wednesday.
The missing swimmer, believed to be a man of Middle Eastern appearance aged between 18 and 20, has been unaccounted for in the sea since about 3pm on Sunday.
He was last seen by his friends becoming submerged in water about 200 metres offshore, near the four-wheel-drive beach entry point off Lavis Lane at Williamtown.
Police raised the alarm with surf lifesavers at Stockton and Birubi after calls for help came in.
Five people were reportedly caught in a rip.
Four managed to make it back to shore on their own but the fifth man did not return.
The search was called off temporarily at about 3.30pm on Monday but was re-launched at 8am on Tuesday.
Marine Area Command police will monitor conditions, with the weather expected to deteriorate in the Hunter.
The Bureau of Meteorology (BOM) has forecast a 90 per cent chance of rain today, most likely later this afternoon and evening.
There is also the chance of a thunderstorm.
The seas were expected to increase from 1.5 metres to 2.5 metres during this morning.