Coast Guard, FWC terminate illegal charter in Clearwater

The Coast Guard and Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission terminated an illegal small passenger vessel charter in Clearwater, Florida, Feb. 11, 2022. After investigation, the Coast Guard officer terminated the vessel’s voyage as the operator was not enrolled in a drug testing consortium, and the charter was overloaded. U.S. Coast Guard courtesy photo.

The Coast Guard and Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission terminated an illegal small passenger vessel charter in Clearwater, Florida, Feb. 11, 2022. After investigation, the Coast Guard officer terminated the vessel’s voyage as the operator was not enrolled in a drug testing consortium, and the charter was overloaded. U.S. Coast Guard courtesy photo.

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. —The Coast Guard terminated an illegal small passenger vessel charter in Clearwater, Florida, Friday.

A Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission boatcrew, with a Coast Guard investigating officer on board, boarded two boats operating in passenger service chartered by one person for 13 passengers; both under the command and control of Coast Guard credentialed mariners.

After investigation, Coast Guard officer determined the vessel with six passengers was operating legally as an uninspected passenger vessel, however, the operator was not enrolled in a drug testing consortium.

The operator of the second vessel was also not enrolled in a drug testing consortium, and had seven passengers-one over the six passenger requirement for uninspected vessels. The charter was deemed illegal and the Captain of the Port terminated the overloaded vessel’s voyage.

Both vessels were previously issued a Captain of the Port order for alleged illegal passenger operations, and were escorted to Seminole Boat Ramp.

Violations noted during the boarding included:

  • Violation of 46 C.F.R. 176.100 (a) – failure to have a valid Certificate of Inspection.
  • Violation of 46 C.F.R. 16.201 – failure of a marine employer to ensure crew enrolled in a drug testing consortium.
  • Violation of 46 U.S.C. 70036 – for failure to comply with a Captain of the Port order.

The Captain of the Port subsequently issued a second Captain of the Port Order terminating the voyage.

“Uninspected passenger vessels under 100 gross tons are allowed to carry no more than six passengers for hire. Once the passenger count exceeds six, the vessel is subject to inspection under the provisions of 46 CFR 175,” said Brian Knapp, Senior Investigating Officer at Coast Guard Sector St. Petersburg. “To verify if you are on an inspected passenger vessel, passengers can ask to see the vessels Certificate of Inspection which states how many passengers may be carried on the vessel, how many crew are required and what waterways the vessel is permitted to operate on. Anyone paying for a trip on a passenger vessel should ask to see the Merchant Mariner Credential of the boat operator to verify their captain is properly licensed by the Coast Guard. If the captain can’t produce their license, don’t get on the boat.”

Anyone suspecting a vessel of violating the law, report the alleged violation to Coast Guard Sector St. Petersburg at 727-502-8720.

Owners and operators of illegal charter vessels can face maximum civil penalties of over $60,000 for illegal passenger-for-hire operations.

Some potential fines for illegally operating a charter vessel are:

  • Up to $7,939 for failure of operators to be enrolled in a chemical testing program.
  • Up to $4,946 for failure to provide a Coast Guard Certificate of Inspection for vessels carrying more than six passengers.
  • Up to $16,844 for failure to produce a valid Certificate of Documentation for vessels over 5 net tons.
  • Up to $103,050 for charters that violate a Captain of the Port Order.

For more news follow us on Twitter and Facebook. For recent photographs follow us on Flickr.


If you have any problems viewing this article, please report it here.

Related Posts

Comments are closed.