September 17, 2013

Coast Guard suspends search for Maine mayday caller

The distress call Sunday night reported a boat had two people on board and was taking on water, but no boat was found.

By David Hench dhench@pressherald.com
Staff Writer

MOUNT DESERT ROCK — The United States Coast Guard has suspended its search for a 55-foot fishing vessel that was believed to be taking on water Sunday night in the vicinity of Mount Desert Rock.

The Coast Guard called off its search at 5:28 p.m. Monday for the vessel, which was believed to have two people on board, after searching a 2,000-square-mile area and included shoreline searches of several surrounding islands.

Mount Desert Rock is a small island about 18 nautical miles south of Mount Desert Island. There is an automated lighthouse on the island.

Petty Officer Myeonghi Clegg, a Coast Guard spokeswoman based in Boston, said the search turned up no evidence that a vessel had sunk. Planes, helicopters and boats found no debris field or life jackets.

Clegg said the mayday call, which was received at 6:41 p.m. Sunday, appears to have been legitimate.

“At this point we have no indication that this was a hoax,” Clegg said, adding that the Coast Guard had not received any reports of missing or overdue fishing vessels. Clegg said the caller gave the Coast Guard his vessel’s longitude and latitude position.

Some fishing vessels are equipped with electronic radio beacons that emit a signal that can be used to identify the position of a boat, but in this case Clegg said the Coast Guard did not receive any signals. 

Clegg said the Coast Guard invested a lot of resources in the search, including a fixed-wing airplane, a helicopter, the 110-foot Coast Guard Cutter Jefferson Island, several smaller motorized boats and the Maine Marine Patrol.

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