Coast Guard issues Captain of the Port order following allision

MARATHON, Fla. — Coast Guard Sector Key West has issued a Captain of the Port order on a commercial fishing vessel involved in an allision with an anchored recreational vessel 2 miles northwest of the Seven Mile Bridge in Marathon, Florida.

Based on witness statements collected by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission and Coast Guard boarding teams, the operator of the commercial vessel left the helm unattended for five to six minutes to check an engine alarm while allowing the vessel to proceed at approximately 22 knots.

Immediately prior to the accident, the two passengers on the recreational vessel attempted to hail the commercial fishing vessel on a VHF radio, sounded their horn, waved their arms and yelled, all to no avail prior to jumping in the water. No serious injuries were reported, but substantial motor and hull damage to both vessels occurred.

Sector Key West issued a Captain of the Port Order requiring the commercial vessel to immediately cease operations until it was shown in full compliance with all applicable laws and regulations and repairs were made to the vessel’s hull. Investigating officers also issued the operator a Notice of Violation for negligent operations with a maximum civil penalty amount of $38,139. FWC is investigating the accident.

“This could have been much worse,” said Capt. Jason Ingram, commander of U.S. Coast Guard Sector Key West. “Keeping a sharp lookout is basic seamanship, and I expected more from a mariner who makes his living on the water. We have to keep the waterways safe. I hope that all boaters understand how serious this could have been and learn a lesson from this mariner’s mistakes.”

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