Coast Guard cautions public against illegal charters, investigates illegal operations

PHILADELPHIA – The Coast Guard is reminding the public that unlicensed vessel charters are both illegal and unsafe to the consumer.

The Coast Guard is currently investigating and issuing violations to owners of vessels offering unlicensed charter services in the states of New Jersey and Delaware.

Hiring an unlicensed charter is dangerous because it may not have the proper emergency safety gear, may not have the proper navigation and communication gear, and may not have undergone the proper license exams and inspections, which are put in place to ensure passenger safety.

“People paying to take an excursion on the water deserve safe vessels operated by properly licensed individuals,” said Capt. Scott Anderson, Commanding Officer of Coast Guard Sector Delaware Bay. “Vessel operators who skirt the regulations undercut legitimate licensed operators and put their passengers at risk. Paying customers can play a key role in keeping our waters safe by asking to see a license before departing, and they can ask to see the inspection sticker if vessels are carrying more than six passengers.”

Unlicensed vessel operators may not be aware that using their boat to take members of the public out for hire is illegal and may view it as a way to supplement income; however it is against the law.

Anyone considering chartering or operating their vessel with passengers for hire should contact Sector Delaware Bay Marine Inspections at (215) 908-9827 or DomesticVessels@uscg.mil to discuss how regulations apply to you.

In accordance with Title 46 U.S. Code § 4106, if a vessel is operated in violation of applicable laws and regulations, the owner, charterer, managing operator, agent, master and individual in charge may be liable for a civil penalty up to $10,519 per violation per day.

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