A lifeboat station that sprang into action over six red distress flare sightings has concluded the emergency was a “malicious false alarm”.
HM Coastguard has reported the “irresponsible act” to police, with a lifeboat boss stating it “wasted thousands of pounds of charitable donations” during a time when fundraising has been adversely impacted by Covid-19.
The team at RNLI Aberdeen Lifeboat Station were put to sea after the alarm was raised at 9.35pm on Friday night.
Whilst D-class Buoy Woody 85N searched from Victoria Bridge to Aberdeen Harbour entrance, Severn-class Bon Accord scoured the waters near to Girdle Ness Lighthouse.
Meanwhile, Coastguard officers joined in the search onshore.
With no further distress signals seen or received, the lifeboats returned to base at 11pm.
Bill Deans, lifeboat operations manager at Aberdeen Lifeboat Station, said: “This irresponsible act forced nine RNLI volunteers to abandon social distancing to crew the lifeboats.
“It tied up valuable search and rescue resources at sea and ashore.
“This malicious false alarm also wasted thousands of pounds of charitable donations by Aberdonians to fund their lifeboats – at a time when Covid-19 has had a significant detrimental impact on RNLI fundraising locally and nationally.”