Coast Guard, Tampa Police terminate illegal charter in Tampa Bay

A Coast Guard Sector St. Petersburg investigating officer along with Tampa Police Department (TPD) Marine Unit terminated the voyage of a 43.5-foot uninspected passenger vessel with 18 passengers for hire in Tampa Bay Friday. The investigating officer determined the vessel was not an inspected passenger vessel and according to Coast Guard regulations uninspected passenger vessels are only permitted to carry six passengers for hire. U.S. Coast Guard photo.

A Coast Guard Sector St. Petersburg investigating officer along with Tampa Police Department (TPD) Marine Unit terminated the voyage of a 43.5-foot uninspected passenger vessel with 18 passengers for hire in Tampa Bay Friday.  U.S. Coast Guard photo.

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — The Coast Guard terminated an illegal charter in the Tampa Bay area Friday.

A Coast Guard Sector St. Petersburg investigating officer along with Tampa Police Department (TPD) Marine Unit terminated the voyage of a 43.5-foot uninspected passenger vessel with 18 passengers for hire.

The violations include:

  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. 16.201 for failure to have a drug and alcohol program.
  3. Violation of 46 C.F.R. 15.515 (b) for failure to have a credentialed mariner in control while operating a small passenger vessel.
  4. Violation of 46 C.F.R. 67.325 operating a vessel in Coastwise Trade with a Certificate of Documentation endorsed as a recreational vessel.

During the course of the boarding, the investigating officer determined the vessel was not an inspected passenger vessel and according to Coast Guard regulations uninspected passenger vessels are only permitted to carry six passengers for hire.

“The Coast Guard will continue to aggressively pursue vessel operators who needlessly place the lives of patrons at risk by not complying with Coast Guard passenger vessel regulations,” said Mr. Brian Knapp, Senior Investigating Officer at Coast Guard Sector St. Petersburg. “We’d like to remind people who charter a boat, they should choose a certified captain and crew. Certified captains should be able to produce a Coast Guard captain license upon request. Additionally, when chartering a boat with more than six passengers ask to see the Coast Guard’s Certificate of Inspection. If the operator cannot produce a Merchant Mariner Credential or a Certificate of Inspection, don’t get on the boat.”

Owners and operators of illegal charter vessels can face maximum civil penalties of over $50,000 for illegal passenger-for-hire operations. Additionally, credentialed mariners who operate vessels in a non-compliant manner risk having their license suspended. Some potential fines for illegally operating a charter vessel are:

  • Up to $18,477 for failure of an inspected vessel to be under the control of an individual with the appropriate Coast Guard license.
  • Up to $7,250 for failure of operators to be enrolled in a chemical testing program.
  • Up to $4,685 for failure to provide a Coast Guard Certificate of Inspection for vessels carrying more than six passengers.

The vessel was escorted to Tampa Convention Center which is the location the passengers embarked the vessel.


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