Coast Guard halts illegal charter, rescues 2 on disabled jet ski near Venetian Causeway Bridge

33-foot Special Purpose Craft-Law Enforcement file photo

33-foot Special Purpose Craft-Law Enforcement file photo

MIAMI — The Coast Guard interdicted an illegal charter Thursday while assisting two boaters in a disabled vessel near Venetian Causeway Bridge.

Coast Guard Sector Miami watchstanders received a report from a good Samaritan of a disabled jet ski with two people aboard pinned against a bridge piling. Watchstanders diverted a Coast Guard Station Miami Beach 33-foot Special Purpose Craft-Law Enforcement crew who assisted the jet skiers in maneuvering away from the bridge and back to the pontoon boat they were with. Once back, the Station Miami Beach boat crew conducted a routine boarding of the pontoon boat and determined it to be an illegal charter operation with the following violations:

  1. Violation of 46 C.F.R. 15.605, for failure to have appropriate Merchant Mariner Credentials
  2. Violation of 46 C.F.R. 16.201, for failure to have a drug and alcohol program
  3. Violation of 46 C.F.R. 24.05, for operating as an uninspected passenger vessel

“We urge anyone paying for a trip on a passenger vessel to ask to see the Merchant Mariner Credential of the vessel operator to verify their captain is properly credentialed by the Coast Guard,” said Petty Officer 2nd Class Giomar Alvarez, boarding officer at Station Miami Beach. “Additionally, when chartering a boat with more than six passengers ask to see the Coast Guard’s Certificate of Inspection. If the operator cannot produce a Merchant Mariner Credential or a Certificate of Inspection, don’t get on the boat.”

Owners and operators of illegal charter vessels can face maximum civil penalties of over $50,000 for illegal passenger-for-hire operations. Additionally, credentialed mariners who operate vessels in a non-compliant manner risk having their license suspended. 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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