Coast Guard officials have suspended a search off the southern New Jersey coast that began after the agency received a mysterious distress call on Sunday morning.

The apparent hoax came less than a week after the Coast Guard staged a massive search off Sandy Hook that was prompted by another distress call which was later labeled a hoax. That search took five hours and cost rescue agencies more than $300,000.

Officials say the latest search began late Sunday morning after a radio call went out stating "Mayday, mayday, is anyone there?" The caller apparently provided information about the vessel's location, but not precise coordinates.



A Coast Guard helicopter was dispatched and searched an area about 12 miles off Cape May, but found no signs of a ship in distress.

This will likely happen again as the Coast Guard responds to all calls for help.

Jason Allentoff contributed to this report.

(Copyright 2012 by The Associated Press.  All Rights Reserved.)