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Coast Guard Suspends Search For Fishermen, Citing 'Probable Hoax'

The Coast Guard says a radio mayday that went out from the Spruce Head area Thursday morning is probably a hoax.

After searching a 62-square-mile area from the air and the water for nearly six hours, the agency says it found no evidence that any boat had gone down.

In the distress call, a man reports that an unnamed 42-foot boat with three men onboard has lost its rudder and is rapidly taking on water.

The call took place less than two weeks after the New England fishing community was shaken by the loss of four fishermen from a Portland-based boat that sank off Provincetown, Massachusetts.

Deliberately issuing a false distress message is a felony punishable by up to six years in prison, a $250,000 fine and reimbursement of search costs.

A Columbia University graduate, Fred began his journalism career as a print reporter in Vermont, then came to Maine Public in 2001 as its political reporter, as well as serving as a host for a variety of Maine Public Radio and Maine Public Television programs. Fred later went on to become news director for New England Public Radio in Western Massachusetts and worked as a freelancer for National Public Radio and a number of regional public radio stations, including WBUR in Boston and NHPR in New Hampshire.