A man has been charged with making a false distress call to the U.S. Coast Guard in Maine that resulted in a more than five-hour search by boat and helicopter.
Nathan Libby, 31, of Rockland, was charged with making the fake call Dec. 3 via VHF-FM radio channel 16, the U.S attorney’s office said in a news release Friday.
Libby is scheduled to be in court Monday. A lawyer was not listed for him in court documents. A possible phone number for him rang unanswered Saturday.
The caller said “we lost our rudder,” “we are taking on water fast,” and “our pumps can’t keep up with this,” according to a federal court police affidavit. The caller said he was on a 42-foot boat in Spruce Head Harbor.
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The search included the use of Coast Guard and Maine Marine Patrol vessels, and a helicopter from Coast Guard Air Station Cape Cod. No vessel was found.
The call was eventually traced to Libby, an employee of the Spruce Head Fishermen’s Co-Op, and a criminal complaint was filed against him Wednesday in federal court in Portland.
Calls like these “unnecessarily put our rescue crews at risk, drain resources, and may limit our ability to respond to actual emergencies,” Capt. Brian LeFebvre, commanding officer of Coast Guard Sector Northern New England, said in a written statement.
The hoax call came less than two weeks after a boat carrying four Maine fishermen sank off Cape Cod on Nov. 23, mounting an extensive search. The fishermen were never found.