A SERIES of hoax calls being made by a person claiming to be on a sinking boat prompted a two-hour search by Tynemouth RNLI all weather lifeboat yesterday evening.

The calls were made by a man on marine VHF channel 12 – Tyne Vessel Traffic Services (VTS) frequency – saying that he was on board a boat called ‘Big Digger’ and that the boat was taking on water.  Requests from the Port of Tyne VTS operators for the caller to give more information were met with no response.

The lifeboat crew also attempted to get more information from the caller but met with no success, with his replies being vague and too short to get a good fix with the lifeboat’s radio direction finding equipment, although it was suspected that the transmissions came from the vicinity of South Shields.

Humber Coastguard were made aware of the situation and to eliminate any possibility of the calls being genuine they tasked the lifeboat, which had already launched on exercise, to start a search five miles east of the Tyne piers, the last position the caller claimed to be at.

A ‘Mayday Relay’ broadcast was made by Humber Coastguard to all vessels in the area asking them for assistance by reporting any sightings and keeping a lookout for any possible vessel in difficulty.  A number of fishing vessels and a ship reported that they had passed through the search area but had seen or heard nothing.

After searching the area thoroughly the lifeboat crew and Humber Coastguard were satisfied that there was no vessel in difficulty and the search was called off, and the Mayday Relay cancelled.

The lifeboat then returned to station to change crew for the second exercise of the evening.

The identity or precise location of the hoaxer remains unknown.

Lifeboat (relief) : 17-17 Fraser Flyer

 

Hoaxer causes search by Tynemouth RNLI lifeboatTynemouth RNLIServicescall,Coastguard,hoax,Lifeboat,port,RNLI,Search,Tyne,TynemouthA SERIES of hoax calls being made by a person claiming to be on a sinking boat prompted a two-hour search by Tynemouth RNLI all weather lifeboat yesterday evening. The calls were made by a man on marine VHF channel 12 - Tyne Vessel Traffic Services (VTS) frequency - saying...The RNLI is the charity that saves lives at sea