Coast Guard halts illegal charter near Rickenbacker Causeway

The 24-foot pleasure craft, Celebrity, underway in Biscayne Bay, Florida, May 24, 2020. While on routine patrol, a Coast Guard Station Miami Beach 33-foot Special Purpose Craft—Law Enforcement crew noticed the vessel operating without navigation lights in the Biscayne Bay near Rickenbacker Causeway and boarded it to discover multiple violations. Coast Guard Photo by Petty Officer 1st Class Ricky Perilla.

The 24-foot pleasure craft, Celebrity, underway in Biscayne Bay, Florida, May 24, 2020. Coast Guard Photo by Petty Officer 1st Class Ricky Perilla.

MIAMI — The Coast Guard terminated the voyage of the 24-foot pleasure craft, Celebrity, with 10 people aboard Saturday near the Rickenbacker Causeway.

While on routine patrol, a Coast Guard Station Miami Beach 33-foot Special Purpose Craft-Law Enforcement crew spotted a vessel operating without navigation lights in the Biscayne Bay.

The Station Miami Beach boarding team conducted a boarding of the pleasure craft and discovered the following violations:


  1. Violation of 46 C.F.R. 176.100A for not having a valid Certificate of Inspection.
  2. Violation of 46 C.F.R. 15.515B for not having a credentialed mariner in control while operating a small passenger vessel.
  3. Violation of 46 C.F.R. 15.401A for employment of an individual without the appropriate license.
  4. Violation of 46 C.F.R. 16.201 for failure to have a drug and alcohol program.
  5. Violation of 46 C.F.R. 170.120 for failure to have a valid stability letter.

“Before getting underway, ask to see the captain’s credentials, vessel inspection certificate, and safety plan,” said Petty Officer 1st Class Ricky Perilla, boarding officer at Station Miami Beach. “If there is any doubt, don’t go. Don’t put your life and the lives of your family and friends in the hands of an unlicensed operator.”

Owners and operators of illegal charter vessels can face maximum civil penalties of $59,000 for illegal passenger-for-hire-operations and over. Charters that violate a Captain of the Port Order can face over $94,000 in penalties. Some potential fines for illegally operating a charter vessel are:

  • Up to $7,710 for failure of operators to be enrolled in a chemical testing program.
  • Up to $4,803 for failure to provide a Coast Guard Certificate of Inspection for vessels carrying more than six passengers.
  • Up to $16,398 for failure to produce a valid Certificate of Documentation for vessels over 5 gross tons.
  • Up to $12,007 for failure to have been issued a valid Stability Letter prior to placing vessel in service with more than six passengers.
  • Up to $94,219 for every day of failure to comply with a Captain of the Port Order.

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