Coast Guard, local agencies, stop illegal charter vessel near Orange Beach, Alabama

NEW ORLEANS — The Coast Guard and the Orange Beach Police department terminated the voyage of an illegal charter vessel near Orange Beach, Ala., Saturday.

Orange Beach Police contacted Coast Guard Sector Mobile with concerns of a suspected illegal passenger for hire operation in the area after seeing multiple advertisements on social media over the last few weeks. Coast Guard law enforcement officers, patrolling with Orange Beach police, boarded the 21-foot center console boat and found it operating with paying passengers embarked. The captain of the vessel had no valid Merchant Mariner’s License, no current vessel registration, and no business license to operate. The voyage was terminated and the vessel was escorted back to port.

Under federal law, owners and operators of illegal charter vessels can face maximum civil penalties of more than $59,000.

“Illegal charter boats place passengers in great danger,” said Capt. LaDonn Allen, Sector Commander of Coast Guard Sector Mobile. “They do not provide the same level of safety as a legal charter vessel. The safety of the boating public is our top priority and along with our partners, like the Orange Beach Police Department, we are dedicated to stopping this illegal activity and ensuring the appropriate penalties are applied.”

The Coast Guard urges anyone paying for a trip on a passenger vessel to verify that their captain has a safety plan and a Merchant Mariner Credential. For larger charter boats, ask to see a Coast Guard issued Certificate of Inspection. If the operator cannot produce appropriate credentials, passengers should not get on the boat.

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