Coast Guard terminates illegal charter in St. Petersburg

A Coast Guard investigating officer terminates the voyage of a 47-foot uninspected passenger vessel with 15 passengers for hire in St. Petersburg, Florida June 20, 2020. Uninspected passenger vessels are only permitted by Coast Guard regulations to carry six passengers for hire with a master who holds a Merchant Mariner Credential. (U.S. Coast Guard photo.)

A Coast Guard investigating officer terminates the voyage of a 47-foot uninspected passenger vessel with 15 passengers for hire in St. Petersburg, Florida June 20, 2020. (U.S. Coast Guard photo.)

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — The Coast Guard terminated an illegal charter near St. Petersburg Municipal Marina Saturday.

A Coast Guard Sector St. Petersburg investigation officer terminated the voyage of a 47-foot uninspected passenger vessel with 15 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. 170.120 for failure to have a valid stability letter.

During the course of the boarding, the investigating officer determined the vessel was not an inspected passenger vessel and uninspected passenger vessels are only permitted by Coast Guard regulations 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 urge anyone paying for a trip on a passenger vessel to ask to see the Merchant Mariner Credential of the vessel operator to verify their captain is properly credentialed by the Coast Guard. 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.
  • Up to $15,995 for failure to produce a valid Certificate of Documentation for vessels over 5 gross tons.
  • Up to $11,712 for failure to have been issued a valid Stability Letter prior to placing vessel in service with more than six passengers.

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