Coast Guard cautions mariners in Puerto Rico, U.S. Virgin Islands to abide by maritime laws

The Coast Guard reminds recreational boaters and licensed mariners in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands to abide by all U.S. navigational and maritimes laws after the impact of Hurricane Irma. U.S. Coast Guard photo by Lt. Leah Roach

The Coast Guard reminds recreational boaters and licensed mariners in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands to abide by all U.S. navigational and maritimes laws after the impact of Hurricane Irma. U.S. Coast Guard photo by Lt. Leah Roach

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico – The Coast Guard is reminding recreational boaters and licensed mariners in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands to abide by all U.S. navigational and maritime laws and boating safety regulations after the impact of Hurricane Irma.

The Coast Guard highly recommends mariners do not transport people or cargo aboard recreational vessels to the U.S. Virgin Islands or other islands impacted by Hurricane Irma.

For mariners interested in volunteering please contact usviprnavy@gmail.com to assist and confirm vessel is operating in its correct safety parameters.

The private group Puerto Rico Navy, is organizing volunteers to account for these vessels and ensure these trips are in compliance and abiding by federal maritime law and boating safety regulations. Before mariners consider providing aid or getting underway, they are reminded that Puerto Rico Navy is coordinating with the Coast Guard and Customs and Border Protection officials who are available to inspect these vessels, address safety, maritime law or U.S. customs requirements.

“Safety of life at sea is a top priority,” said Capt. Eric King, Coast Guard Sector San Juan Commander. “Vessels not abiding by these strict parameters and safe boating regulations may endanger themselves or the people they are looking to assist, and they also could hamper any ongoing relief efforts in the area.”

There is and established Coast Guard presence in the U.S. Virgin Islands working with Virgin islands and federal responders on land, as well as, multiple cruise ships in St. Thomas coordinating the transportation of people that need to be removed from the island.

The Coast Guard in coordination with partner agencies continues to maintain a strong security presence within the Puerto Rico and U.S. Virgin Islands to maintain maritime security, safety of life at sea and deter potential incidents that could endanger ongoing relief operations to recover the islands from the impact of Hurricane Irma.

Mariners are also reminded of the below information:

Although most ports are open, the public should stay clear of unsafe infrastructure or debris in the area and should remember the below safe boating information:

  • A curfew of 6 p.m. remains in effect in the U.S. Virgin Islands.
  • All boats should maintain the proper safety equipment for the size of their vessel and people that it may legally transport.

Mariners are reminded to not over load their vessels with supplies or people beyond the vessels legal capabilities and parameters.

Recreational vessel operators are reminded that representing themselves or their vessels for hire to transport passengers or cargo is illegal. Violators are subject to civil penalties, vessel seizure and possible criminal charges.

The Coast Guard also wants to remind licensed captains maintain the proper limit of people and cargo aboard their vessel in accordance with the vessel authorized stability parameters.

The Coast Guard advises that all people transported or returning from the U.S. Virgins Islands must be screened by U.S. Customs before leaving the island.

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