A Coastguard emergency channel was blocked by a ship that was accidentally playing BBC Radio 4 over it.
A sailor afloat somewhere near the Shetland islands accidently sent the Radio 4 station onto the maritime emergency channel all day.
The incident forced the coastguard in Shetland, one of 300 rescue teams around the UK to email the BBC for help.
It was only flagged up after a shift change where the team leader, nicknamed Laura K realised before changing over.
The centre in Shetland realised a ship was playing Radio 4 over the channel
Speaking to the BBC’s Broadcasting House programme on Sunday, it was part of the Coastguard’s policy that if a radio station can be heard over the channel, the broadcaster can be contacted. They can be asked to broadcast a safety message to get all vessels in the area to check their sets.
The safety message, as broadcast on February 5, said: “This is an important safety-related message on behalf of His Majesty’s Coastguard. This radio message is being transmitted over VHF channel 16 by a vessel with an open mic.
“This is blocking all distress, urgency and safety broadcasts. All vessels in the vicinity of south east Shetland are requested to check their radios and ensure that the microphone transmit button is not being inadvertently held open.”
Radio 4 eventually stopped being played over the emergency channel at 7pm the same day.
HM Coastguards in Orkney, Shetland
Luckily, the team leader added that there had been no “incidents” during the 12-hour period the channel was blocked.
HM Coastguards are made up of around 3,500 volunteers, as well as more than 400 trained staff, who respond to over 36,000 incidents each year, reports The Telegraph.
More than 11,000 miles of coastline are covered by HM Coastguard, with Maritime Rescue Coordination Centres situated from Falmouth to Shetland.
Established on January 15 1822, originally to combat smuggling, His Majesty’s Coastguard has in the following 200 years expanded to its current form.
It is not the first time signals have been accidentally blocked as 20 years ago a similar incident happened when a crewman on a cargo ship jammed the emergency frequency with Radio 4 for five hours.
Again, an appeal was made through Radio 4 by the Coastguard for the radio station to be turned off.
The Coastguard said: “VHF Channel 16 must be kept clear for distress and urgency traffic only. When mariners inadvertently broadcast on this channel, the Coastguard will take action to clear the channel.
“Mariners should regularly check their radio equipment to ensure that it is in good condition to avoid accidental transmissions.”