December 22, 2013

Coast Guard distress signal from Portland a mystery

Call came in from near Jewell Island

From Staff Reports

The U.S. Coast Guard suspended its active search for an unknown distress call Sunday afternoon, but officials said they would like to hear from anyone who has information on what happened.

Petty Officer Kurt Hein said that Saturday afternoon someone called the Coast Guard’s distress line.

“We received a frantic-sounding call that stated the words “Coast Guard” twice,” Hein said. Radio direction-finding equipment pinpointed the call to Casco Bay, about a mile east of Jewell Island.

The Coast Guard immediately launched two 47-foot Motor Life Boat crews from its South Portland station and an MH-60 Jayhawk helicopter crew from Coast Guard Air Station in Cape Cod, Mass.

The active search was called off shortly after noon on Sunday.

Hein said it’s possible that it was a false alarm, or that the caller found safety before the Coast Guard reached the area. Hein said typically, the caller will come forward to explain what happened, but not always.

Anyone with information regarding the call asked to contact the Coast Guard Sector Northern New England command center at (207) 767-0302.

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