Coast Guard investigates potential SOS distress signal

BOSTON — The Coast Guard investigated a report that someone was flashing the SOS distress signal on White Island in the Isle of Shoals near Portsmouth, N.H., Saturday at 9:45 p.m.

Coast Guard Sector Northern New England received a call from a Good Samaritan at a hotel on Star Island near Portsmouth, N.H., stating that they had seen a SOS signal being flashed on White Island.

The Coast Guard responded by launching a Jayhawk helicopter from Air Station Cape Cod and a 25-foot reponse boat from Station Portsmouth Harbor. The rescue crews arrived on scene at 10:08 p.m.

Once on scene, they located a boat on White Island that was beached and had the motor up. The response boat could not get close enough for a rescue crew to go ashore.

New Hampshire Marine Patrol picked up two Coast Guard boat crew members and transported them to shore, where they located the operator of the beached boat.

Two college students were doing a study on the island and were using flashlights. After making sure they were not in distress, the search concluded and all assets returned to base.

“Fortunately there was no distress,” said Lt. Derek Burrill, command duty officer at Sector Northern New England. “However, this case is an example of how quickly we can locate someone if the reporting source continues to work with us until the case is resolved.”

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