CAPE MAY, N.J. – Coast Guard officials have suspended a search off the southern New Jersey coast that began after the agency received a mysterious distress call on Sunday morning.
The apparent hoax came less than a week after the Coast Guard staged a massive search off Sandy Hook that was prompted by another distress call which was later labeled a hoax. That search took five hours and cost rescue agencies more than $300,000. O
fficials say the latest search began late Sunday morning after a radio call went out stating "Mayday, mayday, is anyone there?" The caller apparently provided information about the vessel's location, but not precise coordinates.
A Coast Guard helicopter was dispatched and searched an area about 12 miles off Cape May, but found no signs of a ship in distress. The search was suspended early Sunday afternoon.
On June 11, a man claiming to be aboard a yacht called the Blind Date triggered a massive search when he reported three people dead, nine injured and 21 abandoning ship after an explosion 20 miles off Sandy Hook. Officials believe the hoax originated on land in either New Jersey or Staten Island, N.Y.
The Coast Guard is offering a $3,000 reward for information leading to an arrest and prosecution in the June 11 incident.