Coast Guard halts illegal charter operation at Watson Island

A 20-foot pleasure craft moored at Watson Island, Florida, Feb. 18, 2019. The operator of the vessel was boarded by the Coast Guard and cited for violation of 46 C.F.R. 176.100A for not having a valid Certificate of Inspection, violation of 46 C.F.R. 15.515B for not having a credentialed mariner in control while operating a small passenger vessel, violation of 46 C.F.R. 16.201 for failure to have a drug and alcohol program and violation of 46 C.F.R. 170.120 for failure to have a valid stability letter. Coast Guard Photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Stephen Pierce.

A 20-foot pleasure craft moored at Watson Island, Florida, Feb. 18, 2019.  Coast Guard Photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Stephen Pierce.

MIAMI — The Coast Guard terminated the voyage of a 20-foot pleasure craft with seven people aboard Monday at Watson Island after discovering multiple safety violations.

A Coast Guard Station Miami Beach 33-foot Special Purpose Craft-Law Enforcement boatcrew conducted the boarding of the pontoon vessel at Watson Island where they discovered the following violations:

  • Violation of 46 C.F.R. 176.100A for not having a valid Certificate of Inspection.
  • Violation of 46 C.F.R. 15.515B for not having a credentialed mariner in control while operating a small passenger vessel.
  • Violation of 46 C.F.R. 16.201 for failure to have a drug and alcohol program.
  • Violation of 46 C.F.R. 170.120 for failure to have a valid stability letter.

“While we want people to have fun out on the water, it’s even more important to us that they’re being safe,” said Chief Warrant Officer Benjamin Mercado, investigation officer at Coast Guard Sector Miami. “Putting your trust in an operator who’s not properly credentialed could be dangerous for everyone involved.”

Owners and operators of illegal charter vessels can face maximum civil penalties of $42,394 for illegal passenger-for-hire operations. Some potential fines for illegally operating a charter vessel are:

  • Up to $18,477 for failure of an inspected vessel to be under the control of an individual with the appropriate Coast Guard license.
  • Up to $7,250 for failure of operators to be enrolled in a chemical testing program.
  • Up to $4,685 for failure to provide a Coast Guard Certificate of Inspection for vessels carrying more than six passengers.
  • Up to $15,995 for failure to produce a valid Certificate of Documentation for vessels over 5 gross tons.
  • Up to $11,712 for failure to have been issued a valid Stability Letter prior to placing vessel in service with more than six passengers.


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