Search finds nothing from distress call

Posted: Tuesday, June 17, 2003

ANCHORAGE (AP) An extensive Coast Guard search found nothing Monday after the crew of a fishing boat in the Gulf of Alaska heard a mayday call reporting a vessel sinking and people in the water.

As of 8 p.m. Monday, no sign of a vessel in distress had been found, said Petty Officer Russ Tippets. The Coast Guard was continuing to search, he said.

The effort began after the charter fishing boat Estimate radioed the Coast Guard in Valdez at 2:34 p.m., Tippits said. The captain of the Estimate reported he had heard a mayday call over the radio.

The mayday call gave a location and said that people were in the water and that the boat's motor was under water, Tippets said. Then communication with the vessel was lost, he said. The name of the boat did not come across in the call.

The Estimate was about six miles from where the vessel was said to be sinking and rushed to the scene. Other vessels joined the search.

The Coast Guard sent a C-130 aircraft, two helicopters and a cutter to the scene about 25 miles east of the mouth of Resurrection Bay.

As of Monday night, no boats had been reported missing or overdue and no emergency beacon signals had been picked up.

It's possible the mayday was a hoax, Tippets said, but the Coast Guard must treat it as a genuine call. The Coast Guard sent helicopters from Seward and Cordova and scrambled the airplane from Kodiak.

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