BELFAST, Maine — After an extensive, fruitless search by air and sea triggered by a mayday distress call made east of Belfast on Wednesday, the U.S. Coast Guard called it off by Thursday afternoon.
The call has since been classified as an uncorrelated mayday, said Petty Officer Emilio Perez of Coast Guard Station Rockland.
Crews used two boats from about 5:30 p.m. Wednesday to 2:50 a.m. Thursday to search a large area around Islesboro, Sears Island and Turtle Head Cove, working in cooperation with several area harbor masters. There also was a helicopter on scene Wednesday night and a Falcon jet from Cape Cod that scoured the area Thursday morning when the search recommenced at dawn.
Despite using night-vision goggles and spotlights, the crews couldn’t spot anything resembling a distressed vessel.
“Negative. No sightings,” Perez said.
No reports of overdue vessels or missing mariners had been made, but he said that it’s policy to search regardless.
“Because you never know,” he said.
He said that if hoax distress calls are made and authorities can identify the person who made the call, they can prosecute. The person responsible for making a false distress call could be held liable for paying for the costs of all the people involved in the search and the cost of the fuel.
“It’s very pricey,” he said.