With the military already under duress due to imminent budget cuts from the sequester, spending resources on a search and rescue mission that could be a hoax could be very frustrating and expensive.
"When we get a distress call we don't focus on how much it would cost," said Chief Petty Officer Mike Lutz. "Our primary focus is the person in danger. We don't let money get in the way of saving someone's life."
The U.S. Coast Guard responded Sunday evening to a distressed call about a family aboard a boat off the coast of Monterey. However, after searching about 20,000 miles of coast, they've come across no family and no boat, according to ABC News. The whole mission would have been a result of a hoax.
"With the current situation we are still under the assumption that it's a search and rescue," said Chief Petty Officer Mike Lutz. "There's no evidence to contradict the fact."
If evidence does arise to contradict the Coast Guard's assumption, "we will try to follow those leads.
But if the distress call had been a hoax, it's likely a costly one.
It took about 42 hours, multiple assets and different crews, Lutz explained. Even the 129th Rescue Wing of the California Air National Guard assisted wtih a HH-60G Pave Hawk helicopter, followed by a crew aboard a C130 that departed from Sacramento.
Lutz explained that it's hard to calculate the costs because it's about people's lives.
Capt. Will Martin, a spokesman for the 129th Rescue Wing, did not have figures handy of the cost of these missions. However, he explained that when a call comes in from the California Emergency Management Agency, they respond and usually to the water or mountain rescues.
"We are on standby," he said.
What do you think if this was in fact a hoax? If they find the culprits, what kind of penalty, if any, should be imposed? Tell us in comments.