Coast Guard: Report of yacht explosion off US likely a hoax, and an expensive one - InfoNews

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Coast Guard: Report of yacht explosion off US likely a hoax, and an expensive one

Deputy Commander of Coast Guard Sector New York Capt. Gregory Hitchen speaks during a news conference in New York, Tuesday, June 12, 2012. The Coast Guard says a reported explosion on a motor yacht off central New Jersey likely was a hoax and that an extensive search and rescue operation cost hundreds of thousands of dollars. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig)
June 12, 2012 - 12:06 PM

SANDY HOOK, N.J. - The U.S. Coast Guard said Tuesday a reported explosion on a yacht off New Jersey likely was a hoax and the search and rescue operation cost tens of thousands of dollars. The mystery calls came almost exactly one year after a similar false report in the area.

About 200 emergency workers rushed to respond after the radio transmission Monday afternoon from a boat identifying itself as the Blind Date. The caller reported the boat had 21 people aboard and several people were injured.

Deputy Commander Gregory Hitchen said the caller gave authorities a "specific blow-by-blow" on how the boat was filling up with water.

"Many hoax calls, you can tell immediately they're from children," he said. "This one was somewhat calm but was giving a convincing story."

The caller also claimed the vessel sank but everyone had made it to life rafts. But Coast Guard crews and New York City police helicopters found no sign of any people or any distress in the water, and after two hours of searching it became increasingly clear there was no explosion.

Making a false distress call is a federal felony, with a maximum penalty of five to 10 years in prison.

The Coast Guard said the two emergency calls Monday came from a radio that was being used over land, not water, and on a channel that is not typically used for emergencies.

Monday's distress call and search came nearly a year after a similar situation unfolded in the area. A call on an emergency radio channel was received in the early morning hours of June 14, 2011, with the caller claiming a sailboat named Courtney Lynn was taking on water. A 10-hour search costing almost $88,000 turned up no sign of the boaters, and an investigation was launched. No one has been prosecuted.

. The Coast Guard and other state and local agencies responded to more than 60 suspected hoax calls last year in the northern New Jersey, New York City and Hudson River region.

News from © The Associated Press, 2012
The Associated Press

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