Coast Guard stops illegal passenger operation near Rincon, Puerto Rico

A Coast Guard Cutter Richard Dixon crewmember aboard the 32-foot Going Deep dive boat assesses the vessel’s passenger-for-hire operation during a boarding Feb. 7, 2021 near Rincon, Puerto Rico. The Coast Guard terminated the voyage as an illegal-passenger-for-hire-operation for the vessel carrying an more than six passengers and cited the vessel operator for not having a valid Cerificate of Inspection. (U.S. Coast Guard photo)

A Coast Guard Cutter Richard Dixon crewmember aboard the 32-foot Going Deep dive boat assesses the vessel’s passenger-for-hire operation during a boarding Feb. 7, 2021 near Rincon, Puerto Rico.  (U.S. Coast Guard photo)

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico — The Coast Guard Cutter Richard Dixon and Sector San Juan marine investigators terminated an illegal passenger-for-hire operation Sunday for the 32-foot dive boat Going Deep near Rincon, Puerto Rico.

“Identifying and stopping illegal passenger vessels and preserving the safety of the public is a priority” said Cmdr. Jose M. Rosario, Coast Guard Sector San Juan chief of prevention. “Successful results such as in this case are the result of continuous inter-departmental efforts to eradicate this illegal practice which endangers the safety of lives at sea, may compromise the environment, and severely impact the image of our tourism industry. We are committed to keeping our beautiful island, its people and resources safe for generations to come.”

During law enforcement patrol in the area, the crew of the cutter Richard Dixon approached the vessel Going Deep that appeared to be operating as an illegal passenger-for-hire operation. The cutter Richard Dixon boarding team, working with Sector San Juan marine investigators, confirmed the Going Deep was carrying seven passengers for hire in addition to the vessel operator and two crewmembers. As an Uninspected Passenger Vessel, the vessel Going Deep is authorized by law to carry up to six passengers.

The Coast Guard boarding team cited the vessel operator with the following:

  1. Violation of 46 CFR 176.100(a) – Not having a valid Certificate of Inspection.

Owners and operators of illegal passenger vessels can face maximum civil penalties of up to $60,000 or over for conducting illegal passenger-for-hire-operations.

Additionally, credentialed mariners who violate a law or a regulation could be subject to the suspension and revocation of their Merchant Mariner’s credential. Owners that violate a Captain of the Port Order can face over $95,000 in fines and civil penalties.

Some other potential civil penalties for illegally operating a passenger vessel are:

  • 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 $7,846 for failure of operators to be enrolled in a chemical testing program.
  • Up to $16,687 for failure to produce a valid Certificate of Documentation for vessels over five net tons.
  • Up to $95,881 for every day of failure to comply with a Captain of the Port Order

Anyone looking to report an illegal-passenger-for-hire operation in Puerto Rico may contact the Coast Guard Sector San Juan Command Center at 787-289-2041.

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