Coast Guard halts illegal passenger vessel operation near Star Island, Florida

The 45-foot boat Fantasy Island operates near Star Island, Florida, July 18, 2020. Station Miami Beach terminated the boats voyage after determining it was operating as an illegal charter. (U.S. Coast Guard photo.)

The 45-foot boat Fantasy Island operates near Star Island, Florida, July 18, 2020.  (U.S. Coast Guard photo.)

MIAMI — The Coast Guard terminated the voyage of a pleasure craft with 14 people aboard, Saturday, who were operating illegal as a small passenger vessel under the control of a credentialed mariner in the vicinity of Star Island.

While on patrol, a Coast Guard Station Miami Beach 33-foot Special Purpose Craft-Law Enforcement boat crew conducted a boarding of the 45-foot boat Fantasy Island and discovered the following violations:

  1. Violation of 46 C.F.R. 176.100(a) for not having a valid Certificate of Inspection.
  2. Violation of 46 C.F.R. 170.120 for failure to have a valid stability letter.
  3. Violation of 46 C.F.R. 67.7 for failure of a vessel greater than five gross tons to have a Certificate of Documentation with Coastwise endorsement.
  4. Violation of 33 C.F.R. 151.57 for failure to have a garbage waste management plan.
  5. Violation of 33 C.F.R. 151.59 for failure to display a garbage placard.
  6. Violation of 33 C.F.R. 155.450 for failure to display a pollution placard.
  7. Violation of 33 C.F.R. 173.15 for failure to have a valid number.
  8. Violation of 33 C.F.R. 173.27 for failure to have a valid registration.
  9. Violation of 33 C.F.R. 174.16 for failure to have a valid verifiable Hull identification number.

“Illegal charters can be dangerous with unqualified and untrained operators unaware without the required safety equipment and awareness of what to do in a maritime emergency situations,” said Jesus Porrata, chief of investigations, Sector Miami. “Before you step aboard a boat ask to see the captain’s credentials and their certificate of inspection to ensure the boat has all the required safety equipment required aboard in case of an emergency.”

Owners and operators of illegal charter vessels can face maximum civil penalties of: $60,000 or over for illegal passenger-for-hire-operations. Charters that violate a Captain of the Port Order can face over $95,000. Some potential civil penalties for illegally operating a charter vessel are:

  • Up to $7,846 for failure of operators to be enrolled in a chemical testing program.
  • Up to $4,888 for failure to provide a Coast Guard Certificate of Inspection for vessels carrying more than six passengers.
  • Up to $16,687 for failure to produce a valid Certificate of Documentation for vessels over 5 gross tons.
  • Up to $12,219 for failure to have been issued a valid Stability Letter prior to placing vessel in service with more than six passengers.
  • Up to $95,881 for every day of failure to comply with a Captain of the Port Order.

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