Coast Guard stops illegal passenger operation near Picnic Island

33-foot Special Purpose Craft-Law Enforcement file photo

33-foot Special Purpose Craft-Law Enforcement file photo

MIAMI — The Coast Guard and local law enforcement officers terminated the voyage of the 55-foot vessel, Mothership, Wednesday approximately one mile east of Picnic Island.

A Coast Guard Station Miami 33-foot Special Purpose Craft-Law Enforcement team and a Coast Guard Investigative Service agent boarded the vessel with two people aboard: one was a passenger-for-hire and a non-credentialed operator.

The non-credentialed operator was taken into custody by US Border Patrol, Miami Sector agents due to him being in the country illegally.

Florida Wildlife & Conservation Commission and City of Miami Marine units also responded to the scene.

The voyage was terminated and cited for the following violations:

  1. Violation of 46 C.F.R. 16.201- for failure to have a drug and alcohol program.
  2. Violation of 46 C.F.R. 15.401(a)- for failure to employ an appropriately credentialed mariner.
  3. Violation of 46 C.F.R. 15.605- for failure to have an uninspected passenger vessel under the control of a properly credential mariner.

“The vessel was operating as an illegal uninspected passenger vessel because it did not meet the manning requirements set forth by Coast Guard regulations,” said Jesus Porrata, Chief of investigations, Sector Miami. “We’d like to remind passengers to ensure their vessel transportation to personal watercraft excursions are operated by a credentialed mariner and have all the necessary safety equipment on board.”

Owners and operators of illegal passenger for hire 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 six 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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