The US Coast Guard sent out a warning on April 22 about false mayday reports after Coast Guard Sector Columbia River Command Center personnel received four potentially false mayday calls in the past two weeks.
The USCG warning states that individuals who make false mayday calls to the Coast Guard could face consequences to their actions.
“Hoax calls waste valuable time and resources, but most importantly they potentially put responding personnel in danger and can interfere with legitimate search and rescue cases,” Sector Columbia River command center chief Lt. Cmdr. Erika Barron said. “With busy spring and summer boating seasons, false distress calls can divert essential resources when they are needed elsewhere to ensure the safety of the public.”
Making a hoax call to the Coast Guard is a crime punishable by up to six years in prison; a $250,000 criminal fine, a $5,000 civil fine, and reimbursement to the Coast Guard for operating costs incurred.
If a mayday call, actual or potentially false, is heard, the USCG says, boaters are encouraged to contact their local Coast Guard unit and relay what they heard.