Coast Guard stops illegal charter near Miami Beach

The 36-foot boat De Armas off Miami Beach, Florida, Saturday, July 25, 2020. Coast Guard Station Miami Beach conducted a routine boarding of the vessel and discovered it was acting as an illegal charter. (U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class Stephen Pierce)

The 36-foot boat De Armas off Miami Beach, Florida, Saturday, July 25, 2020.  (U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class Stephen Pierce)

MIAMI — The Coast Guard terminated the voyage of a pleasure craft with 8 people aboard, Saturday, who were operating as an illegal charter in the vicinity of Flagler Monument Island.

While on patrol, a Coast Guard Station Miami Beach 33-foot Special Purpose Craft-Law Enforcement boat crew conducted a boarding of the 36-foot boat, De Armas, 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 46 C.F.R. 16.201 for failure to have a drug and alcohol program.
  5. Violation of 46 C.F.R. 15.515(b) not in control by an individual with appropriate Merchant Mariner credential.
  6. Violation of 46 C.F.R. 15.401 employment of an individual without the appropriate Merchant Mariner credential.
  7. Violation of 33 C.F.R. 160.105 for failure to comply with Captain of the Port order.

“Illegal charters can be dangerous with unqualified and untrained operators working without the required safety equipment and awareness of what to do in maritime emergency situations,” said Petty Officer 2nd Class Stephen Pierce, a Station Miami Beach boarding officer. “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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