FEDERAL COMMUNICATIONS COMMISSION
News media information 202/418-0500
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE|
September 8, 2000
NEWS MEDIA CONTACT:|
John Winston (202) 418-7450
Washington, D.C.-Today, the Enforcement Bureau of the Federal Communications Commission announced that over a recent two-day period, FCC field agents and the U.S. Coast Guard combined forces to locate and successfully rescue 13 persons. The Coast Guard had received Mayday calls from the operators of the two vessels indicating they were in distress and operating somewhere off the Los Angeles-Long Beach California coast.
In the first incident, which occurred September 3, 2000, Coast Guard personnel received a Mayday distress call from the operator of a vessel, which was taking on water and subsequently capsized. The Coast Guard contacted agents from the FCC Los Angeles Field office and by employing sophisticated electronic Direction Finders, the agents identified the location of the distress signal as originating from a position ten miles East/Southeast of Avalon California, off Santa Catalina Island. Armed with the location provided by FCC agents, the Coast Guard successfully directed the rescue of the boat operator and one passenger on board.
In the second rescue, which took place September 4, 2000, a boater in distress was sending a Mayday transmission indicating that his vessel was on fire and in danger of sinking. Again, FCC field agents from the Los Angeles office identified the location of the distress signal originating from a site, 5 miles off a narrow strip of land on Catalina Island California. The FCC agents alerted the Coast Guard, provided them with the coordinates, which led them to the location site. The swift action by the FCC agents resulted in the successful rescue of the boat operator and 10 passengers.
Ironically, these rescue operations occurred during a weeklong exercise known as Operation Mayday in which Commission agents participated along with the Coast Guard and numerous Los Angeles-Long Beach region marine search and rescue personnel. Operation Mayday was instituted to locate and identify hoax distress callers operating over marine band VHF-FM radio. It has been estimated that that such hoax distress calls in the Los Angeles-Long Beach area cost taxpayers over one million dollars annually in Coast Guard deployment of personnel and equipment not including the additional expenses incurred by back-up local or state search and rescue teams.
According to the Commission and Coast Guard officials the maximum penalty for making a false distress call is 6 years imprisonment, total restitution of all expenses caused by the transmission and a fine of $5,000.
FCC, Enforcement Bureau contact John R. Winston at 202-418-7450