Kids 'playing' with VHF

Shetland Coastguard is asking parents to closely supervise their children near marine radios after a suspected hoax call launched an intensive air and sea search.

The incident began at 3.00 pm today when a female voice was heard on the distress and urgency channel, channel 16 saying We need immediate assistance. The call was isolated to one aerial and a search was instigated. Shetland Coastguard sent the Yell Coastguard Rescue Team to the scene, scrambled the Shetland Coastguard rescue helicopter R102 and requested the Aith RNLI lifeboat to launch. The Sullom Voe VTS officer coordinated the tasking and search of two pilot boats and made numerous enquiries on the Coastguards behalf. Other private vessels also joined the search.

Shetland Coastguard Watch Manager Katrina Hampson says:

We have listened to the tape of the call several times, slowed it right down and increased the volume. In the background a couple of seconds before the part that we initially heard you can hear a childs voice saying mayday, mayday. It now seems likely that this was child playing around with a radio, rather than a real mayday call.

Please can we urge parents to closely supervise their children on board boats and around marine radios. This search cost tens of thousands of pounds and could have taken valuable resources away from someone who really needed them.