Coastguards and three RNLI lifeboats were involved in a major search on Monday night when a may day was heard on the ship to shore radio.
Dunbar lifeboat crewmen heard the call as they were working at the harbourside station.
The lifeboat’s coxswain Gary Fairbairn explained: “All we heard was something like ‘lifeboat sinking’ and then it all went quiet. We spoke to the coastguards in Aberdeen and they listened back to their tapes, heard it and managed to locate it somewhere in the Dunbar patch.
“We launched both our boats and St Abb’s inshore boat was also launched to assist in the search.
“After a while the rather apologetic skipper of a tanker anchored off Dunbar, the Clamor Schulte, radioed coastguards and admitted mistakenly making the distress call as they practised their lifeboat drills. The lifeboats were stood down after a two hour search.