Distress call nets no findings off Kona

KAILUA-KONA — A help call transmitted over VHF marine radio early Tuesday evening prompted the U.S. Coast Guard to launch several aircraft and dispatch a cutter to the Kona Coast.

The help call came about 5 p.m. from an area off Captain Cook via Channel 16, a marine radio frequency internationally designated for distress, urgency and safety priority calls. A Coast Guard C-130 Hercules aircraft was subsequently launched from Air Station Barbers Point on Oahu to search the area with negative findings.

U.S. Coast Guard, District 14, Petty Officer 3rd Class Matthew West said that search was supplemented by surveys conducted by an MH-365 Dolphin Helicopter, the Coast Guard Cutter Kittiwake, and another Coast Guard C-130 Hercules aircraft.

With no findings, the call was deemed “uncorroborated,” and the search was suspending pending any additional information. The Hawaii Fire Department also assisted with a survey from land.

“We treat all calls over the radio as if they are the real thing,” he said of the response.

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