POLICE have taken the unusual step of releasing a recording of the hoax telephone call which sparked a major search and rescue operation in the Moray Firth.
Listen to the recording here.
On the afternoon of Monday, June 18 Coastguards in Aberdeen received what they believed was a mayday call via the VHF channel 16 distress channel.
During the 12-second plea for rescue the caller claimed to be part of a three-man crew abandoning ship from the vessel Silver Tide off Tarlair.
An extensive search and rescue operation swung into operation, involving the RNLI lifeboats from Macduff, Buckie and Fraserburgh, the Coastguard’s Rescue 951 helicopter from Inverness, Coastguard shore teams and nearby fishing boats Sardonyx and Fisher Boys.
However, an extensive search failed to turn up any evidence of either the boat or her crew, leading to Police Scotland to say they were treating the incident as a suspected hoax call..
The call is believed to have been made from the Banff and Macduff area.
Inspector Megan Heathershaw said: "Any distress call made to the emergency services will be taken seriously and these calls have led to the intensive use of time and resources by the Coastguard and other emergency services.
"We have taken the relatively unusual step of releasing a copy of this call to the public and appeal for help in identifying the person responsible.
"I would ask for anyone who recognises the voice on the transmission to please contact us as soon as possible. Likewise I would also appeal to this person directly to get in touch with us.
"Any report of a hoax call to the emergency services will be thoroughly investigated. Every false or inappropriate call takes up the time of the emergency services and may prevent someone who genuinely needs help from getting it.
"It can also place the safety of the people in the emergency services at risk and in this case caused unnecessary search and rescue activity at sea.
"We would ask that anyone with information gets in touch with police on 101 using reference number PS-20180619-1402. Information can also be passed anonymously to Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111."