Coast Guard stops illegal charter off Miami coast

A Coast Guard Station Miami Beach law enforcement crew boards the illegal small passenger yacht Jerico, near Haulover Sandbar, Oct. 14, 2020. The vessel had a total of 18 persons on board, 12 were passengers for hire. (U.S. Coast Guard photo)

A Coast Guard Station Miami Beach law enforcement crew boards the illegal small passenger yacht Jerico, near Haulover Sandbar, Oct. 14, 2020. The vessel had a total of 18 persons on board, 12 were passengers for hire. (U.S. Coast Guard photo)

MIAMI — Coast Guard law enforcement crews terminated an illegal charter of an 88-foot yacht, Jerico, Tuesday near Haulover Sandbar.

A Station Miami Beach 33-foot Special Purpose Craft-Law Enforcement team conducted a boarding of an 88-foot yacht with 18 people aboard, 12 were passengers for hire, operating as an illegal small passenger vessel.

The yacht’s voyage was terminated and cited for the following violations:

  1. Violation of 46 C.F.R. 176.100A for not having a valid Certificate of Inspection.
  2. Violation of 46 C.F.R. 15.515B for not having a credentialed mariner in control while operating a small passenger vessel.
  3. Violation of 46 C.F.R. 16.201 for failure to have a drug and alcohol program.
  4. Violation of 46 C.F.R. 170.120 for failure to have a valid stability letter.
  5. Violation of 46 C.F.R. 15.401 for failure to employ an appropriately credentialed mariner.
  6. Violation of 46 C.F.R. 180.71 for failure to ensure there are appropriate number of life jackets for persons on board and that life jackets comply with 180.71(a)-(e).
  7. Violation of 46 C.F.R. 67.7 for failure to have a COD on a vessel over 5 net tons.

“Under a bareboat charter contract, the person who rents the charter must be given the option to hire any captain of their choosing, or operate the boat themselves,” said Lt. j.g. Danny Hicks, investigations officer, Coast Guard Sector Miami. “If a bareboat renter is assigned a captain without any options, the bareboat charter designation no longer applies, and the boat is deemed a small passenger vessel if more than six passengers, which is exactly what happened in this case.”

Owners and operators of illegal passenger 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 passenger 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 for hire.
  • 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 passengers for hire.
  • Up to $95,881 for every day of failure to comply with a Captain of the Port Order.

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