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Distress call being investigated as hoax

By Stephen Betts | Dec 03, 2020
Photo by: Stephen Betts

Spruce Head — A distress call that led to a search Dec. 3 off Spruce Head for a possible sinking fishing boat is now being investigated as a probable hoax.

Rockland Coast Guard Station Commanding Officer Carter Seigh said the public's assistance is being sought to try to identify who made the distress call.

(Click on the link to hear the may day call).

He said anyone with information to identify the individual can call the Coast Guard at 596-6667.

The Coast Guard, Marine Patrol, and local fishing boats searched for six hours without finding any evidence that a boat had gone down.

A may day call was sent out at 6:35 a.m. Dec. 3 over VHF radio. That call was picked up by the emergency communication center in Portland.

The caller said a white, 42-foot fishing vessel lost its rudder and was taking on water fast as the crew was trying to get to shore. The caller said they were off Spruce Head but could not give an exact location. He said he did not have enough pumps to handle the water.

The caller also said the crew of three were getting into survival suits, the commanding officer said.

The caller did not give the name of the vessel nor names of the crew. The male voice reported they were going to try to get to Atwood Lobster.

A helicopter from Coast Guard Air Station Cape Cod is participating in the search as are a 47-foot boat from the Rockland station and a Maine Marine Patrol boat.

A person convicted of issuing a false distress can be sentenced to up to six years in prison and fined $250,000.

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Comments (11)
Posted by: Gregory M Holmes | Dec 04, 2020 18:19

The individuals your are dealing with would turn someone in for money. Iam very sure that it wasn’t a fisherman that did it, they know the importance of a mayday call,  monetary insensitive is more likely to encourage to rat out a Freind.  Someone knows the voice  ,then when caught they can pay back restitution


Posted by: Francis Mazzeo, Jr. | Dec 04, 2020 10:00

Debbie, thanks for the chuckle. Most vessels have an emergency device(EPIRB) to help locate them. Maybe that should be set off if a rescue is to start.

Posted by: Valerie Wass | Dec 04, 2020 08:26


Where is the money going to come from to fund your idea?  Many dollars where spent in searching for a sinking vessel that didn't exist.  Seriously!  Your idea was from a tv show??

Posted by: Deborah Clarisse Morrison | Dec 04, 2020 07:41

We must have the tech ability to use radio detection devises to triangulate where the signal comes from.  Place these devises every 5-10 miles up the coast and when they receive a message, read from each sensor to pinpoint where it comes from.

The Germans did it in Hogan's Hero's so I know it's true!!!   Seriously, it could also be used almost daily for true distress calls as well as hoaxes.

Posted by: Francis Mazzeo, Jr. | Dec 03, 2020 17:07

Somebody knows and they should come forward without having to be rewarded. People don't need to risk their lives because some mental midget thinks this is a joke. I agree that the caller should at least identify the vessel. Fishing is dangerous enough without some clown calling in a hoax.

Posted by: Gregory M Holmes | Dec 03, 2020 16:51

You need to put a reward for information or the identity of the person  , that might work

Posted by: Valerie Wass | Dec 03, 2020 13:54

This makes me so very angry!   Glad that they were able to post the mayday call online.  Maybe someone that hears it will know who it is.

Posted by: Dorinda Jacobs | Dec 03, 2020 12:34

I hope they catch and charge the hoaxer for all that manpower.  He sounded intoxicated to me.

Posted by: Dorinda Jacobs | Dec 03, 2020 12:32

This update was posted 10mins ago on twitter.

#UPDATE crews have suspended the search pending further information due to a probable hoax. There are no indications of distress or missing persons in the area.

Posted by: Crawford L Robinson | Dec 03, 2020 11:46

I realize they have to respond but a mayday not immediately giving the name of the vessel but having time to recite all of that seems more than a bit odd. Hoax call?

Posted by: Ken L Bishop | Dec 03, 2020 11:32

In our prayers for a safe return!

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