Coast Guard warns of high cost of hoax Mayday calls

By on August 29, 2017

(USCG Lt. Cmdr. Krystyn Pecora)

Every year the U.S. Coast Guard responds to thousands of search and rescue cases. Some of those, however, lead to empty waters at taxpayer expense.

Annually, the Coast Guard responds to 150 suspected or confirmed hoax calls wasting valuable Coast Guard resources.

Not only does it put other boaters who may be in danger and Coast Guard crews at risk, it’s also a crime with serious consequences.

So here are the top reasons why you shouldn’t make a hoax call and why it’s important to report it if you know of someone who has made one:

1. It’s illegal. Making a hoax call may result in 10 years in prison, a $10,000 fine and financial reimbursement to the CG and other involved agencies.

2. Fuel is pricey. A search using an HC-130 Super Hercules plane costs approximately $15,000 per hour, and a MH-60 Jayhawk helicopter operates at approximately $10,000 per hour. Boat rescues costs top out at approximately $5,000 per hour.

3. It’s getting easier to catch callers. In addition to the capability to triangulate the location of most radio calls, the Coast Guard is developing new technology to identify hoaxers. The Coast Guard Research and Development Center’s newest tech can determine the unique vocal identity, like a fingerprint, of hoax callers. Yes, that includes silly voices.

4. If you hear a hoax call, you can help. You can contact the Coast Guard through the Coast Guard Mobile App at Reporting hoax callers helps save time and resources and stop further hoax calls.

The Coast Guard’s mission is to save lives, whether it’s by rescuing a person having heart problems on a cruise ship or saving the lives of mariners on a sinking sailboat, the Coast Guard answers the call.


  • Luminous

    I can’t understand somebody being twisted enough to do this to the USCG upon whom we are so dependent, who daily put their lives on the line in selfless service.

    If there’s such a thing as karma…

    Tuesday, Aug 29 @ 4:09 pm
  • gsurf123

    Making hoax calls is criminal and reprehensible, but listing the costs is unnecessary and irrelevent. The CG has fuel budgets and it will be spent one way or another.

    Thursday, Aug 31 @ 12:21 pm