"Mayday mayday mayday, this is the vessel Crab Bulldog out of Swan Quarter, sinking...mayday."
It was a call picked up late Wednesday night by the Coast Guard Station at Fort Macon.
“We immediately launched some assets, and H-60 helicopters, before it was all done we had searched numerous hours with numerous assets including Marine Corps aircraft,” says Coast Guard Commander Captain Dean Lee.
With three helicopters in the air--along with a boat in the water, after 12 hours of searching high and low...nothing. The Coast Guard commander ruled it a hoax.
“I don’t know what they’re thinking or why they get their kicks out of this,” says Lee.
Prank calls seem to be a reoccurring theme for the Coast Guard. Out of 235 calls this year alone at Fort Macon, 49 have been unconfirmed mayday calls, and 15 suspected hoax calls.
Not only are these hoax calls taking up the time and manpower of the Coast Guard, but it is also costing you, the taxpayer, a whole lot of money. For example, it costs the federal government $11,000 an hour to maintain, operate and fly a helicopter.
The search Wednesday night cost $121,000 just for the air search, not to mention, the $1700 an hour for the boat. That’s all money that should be saved and used for a real emergency.
The Coast Guard commander says “if we had a real case come up we don’t have that asset available to go rescue people actually in distress. Our mission now is we want to find out who this hoax callers are.”
If caught it’s no joke. Those making prank distress calls face six years in federal prison and a $250,000 fine.