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News Release

June 11, 2012

U.S. Coast Guard

Contact: Public Affairs Detachment New York


Office: (212) 514-4291

Mobile: (917) 703-0983

Coast Guard suspends New Jersey search

NEW YORK – Coast Guard rescue crews have suspended a search for 21 people who reportedly abandoned ship 17 miles east of Sandy Hook, N.J., June 11, 2012.

This case is now being investigated as a possible hoax call. 

Coast Guard Vessel Traffic Service New York received a distress call at approximately 4:20 p.m. from the crew of the yacht Blind Date stating the vessel suffered an explosion, seven people were injured and all 21 people reportedly aboard the yacht had abandoned ship into liferafts.

Making a false distress call is a federal felony with a maximum penalty of five to 10 years in prison, a $250,000 fine and reimbursement to the Coast Guard for the cost of performing the search.  Coast Guard and other state and local agencies responded to more than 60 suspected hoax calls in the northern New Jersey, New York City and Hudson River region in 2011.

In addition to being a federal crime, false distress calls waste tax payer dollars, put Coast Guard and other first responders at unnecessary risk and can interfere with the Coast Guard’s ability to respond to actual distress at sea.

"More than 200 first responders assembled mass casualty receptions areas in Newark, and Coast Guard Station Sandy Hook, N.J., preparing to receive the reported injured passengers,” said Cmdr. Kenneth Pierro, of Coast Guard Sector New York.

The Coast Guard offers a reward of up to $1,000 for information leading to the arrest and prosecution of anyone responsible for making a false distress or hoax call to the U.S. Coast Guard.  Anyone with information regarding false distress calls is encouraged to anonymously contact the U.S. Coast Guard Investigative Service at 646-872-5774 or 212-668-7048.

Today’s Coast Guard search east of Sandy Hook included two Coast Guard boat crews and four Coast Guard helicopter crews, who searched approximately 638 square nautical miles. Response units from New York City Police Department, Fire Department of New York City, New Jersey State Police and Nassau County Police Department also conducted searches in the area.

For more information contact Coast Guard Public Affairs Detachment New York 212-668-7114 or 917-703-0983.

Editor’s Note:  The Coast Guard will hold a media briefing at 10 a.m. Tuesday, June 12, 2012, to discuss the investigation into this possible hoax.

WHO: Capt. Gregory Hitchen, Deputy Commander of Coast Guard Sector New York

WHEN: 10 a.m., Tuesday, June 12, 2012 

WHERE: Coast Guard Battery Park Building

                 1 South Street

                  New York, N.Y., 10004




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