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Saturday, April 19, 2014

False distress call in Guam expends USCG resources

APRA HARBOR, Guam—Coast Guard Sector Guam received a distress call early Wednesday morning.

The radio call was received at approximately 7am by Coast Guard watchstanders in the Sector Guam Joint Rescue Sub Center. The call was a child’s voice saying, “Mayday, mayday.”

Prior to the caller making the distress call, the same voice was heard talking on Channel 16 for several minutes requesting food and saying hello to anyone who answered on the radio.

A SH-60 helicopter from Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron 25 was launched to investigate the call. No indications of distress were located during the search. Ultimately, the search was suspended at approximately 12pm, as a probable hoax.

“Every Mayday call received by the Coast Guard is treated as an actual distress case. Hoax calls needlessly tie up resources that are required to maintain a high state of readiness to respond to those who truly are in distress,” said Lt. Cmdr. Morgan Roper.

Knowingly communicating a false distress or causing the Coast Guard to attempt to save lives and property when no help is needed is a felony. The penalties include prison time, criminal fines, civil fines and reimbursement to the Coast Guard for the ample costs incurred in responding to the false call.

Mariners and radio owners are encouraged to take steps to prevent the occurrence of fraudulent calls by removing radios or locking them up when not in use, teaching children appropriate use, and reporting suspected hoax callers to the Coast Guard at 671-564-USCG. (USCG)

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