Coastguards turned to Jonathan Ross's Radio 2 show for help after a boat skipper blocked an international distress channel.
Dover coastguards said the crew left a microphone on while off the Kent coast, blocking radio channel 16, which is reserved for emergency calls.
Ross's radio show could be heard in the background so staff called the BBC, which made the appeal in a news item.
The coastguard said the vessel blocked the channel for about three hours.
It later moved out of range as it travelled north into the Thames coastguard area.
It is not known whether the crew heard the broadcast, but Dover coastguard said it had not heard of any further problems.
"Unfortunately this happens quite a lot and we normally track down the vessel using direction finding but in this case we could not, so we approached the BBC," said a coastguard spokesman.
A BBC spokeswoman said: "As the boat had Radio 2 playing in the background, the Radio 2 newsreader made the on-air appeal at the next opportunity, which was the midday news within Jonathan Ross's show.
"We were happy to be of service."