Coast Guard clears Jacksonville water taxis to carry passengers

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ATLANTIC BEACH, Fla. – U.S. Coast Guard vessel inspectors granted certificates of inspection to two Jacksonville, Florida, water taxis Thursday afternoon, meaning both vessels are cleared by the Coast Guard to operate and carry passengers in the St. Johns River.

Inspectors arrived at the Jacksonville Landing about 9 a.m. and immediately began inspecting the Native Choice and Sea Charm I to ensure both pontoons boats were in compliance with all federal regulations and the crews are capable of responding to emergencies.

Lt. Cmdr. Marc Montemerlo, a Coast Guard vessel inspector, reviews safety guidelines Thursday, August 7, 2014, during a water taxi inspection in Jacksonville, Florida. The water taxis will be used to ferry passengers from one side of the St. Johns River to the other in the Downtown Jacksonville area. U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class Anthony L. Soto

Lt. Cmdr. Marc Montemerlo, a Coast Guard vessel inspector, reviews safety guidelines Thursday, August 7, 2014, during a water taxi inspection in Jacksonville, Florida. U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class Anthony L. Soto

On each boat inspectors found a few deficiencies, including lack of training logs and required placards, which must be corrected in 30 days but did not hinder inspection certification Thursday.

“Both inspections went very well, and we were thrilled to tell the City of Jacksonville the water taxis are cleared to operate this weekend,” said Lt. Cmdr. Marc Montemerlo. “The few deficiencies we discovered are not uncommon for new vessels, and granting a 30-day extension to meet those requirements will not place the passengers or crewmembers in danger.”

The Coast Guard inspects commercial passenger vessels to ensure both vessels and crew meet the standards and regulations to protect passenger safety. Passenger vessel inspections include documentation checks, and verification of machinery, steering, fire protection, life saving, communications, and emergency drill procedures.

“The fire Saturday aboard the vessel Annabelle Lee is a perfect example of why we enforce these regulations,” Montemerlo said. “There were 45 passengers aboard the riverboat when a fire broke out in the engine room while the boat was underway in the St. Johns River. The crew was trained and prepared to respond to the emergency and as a result there were no injuries and everyone made it back to shore safely.”

Click the photo for more from the inspection

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