coast guard helmsman

U.S. Coast Guard Warns Against False Mayday Calls

Eva Seelye Coast Guard Corner Nautical News

Coast Guard HelmsmanIn mid-March, the U.S. Coast Guard received two Mayday calls that are believed to be false; one from Whidbey Island and the other from Everett Marina. The calls are thought to be uncorrelated. They’d like to remind individuals that false mayday calls not only “waste valuable time and resources, but more importantly it puts responding personnel in danger and can interfere with legitimate search and rescue cases,” said Lt. Cmdr. Brook Serbu, command center chief, Coast Guard 13th District. Not to mention the consequences that result from false mayday calls in the form of a $250,000 criminal fine, a $5,000 civil fine, Coast Guard reimbursement, and up to six years in prison.

A child’s voice broadcasted over the VHF-FM radio on Channel 16 at 1705 hours on March 17. The voice stated that his vessel was on fire and sinking. Another transmission was recorded as stating, “Shut up, you filthy animal.” The location was determined to be a land-based position around the Everett Marina. A U.S. Coast Guard watchstander requested additional information but none was given.

The second false mayday call was received at 1858 hours stating, “Mayday, Mayday, this is India Golf Nine-er Nine-er Ligma Ligma,” accompanied by additional vulgar transmissions with laughter. Other children could be heard in the background. This location also pointed to an on-land position on Whidbey Island. No additional information was given to the U.S. Coast Guard watchstander.

Lt. Cmdr. Brook Serbu expre-ssed his concern regarding false mayday transmissions, especially with the warmer seasons upon us stating, “Coast Guard personnel throughout the Pacific Northwest need to be responding to the real emergencies and don’t have time to chase down false reports.” If you hear a false Mayday call, reach out to the nearest Coast Guard unit or contact the Federal Communications Commission.

Eva Seelye

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Raised in the Marshall Islands but with Washington as her second home, Eva Seelye is an independent writer and former assistant editor at Northwest Yachting. Her on-water enthusiasm surfaces in every aspect of her life. Read up on her adventures at

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