Coast Guard terminates illegal charter near Fort Myers Beach

A Coast Guard Station Fort Myers Beach 45-foot Response Boat—Medium Law Enforcement-boatcrew terminated the voyage of a 48-foot uninspected passenger vessel with eight passengers aboard Thursday, Oct. 3, 2019. The vessel was located in the vicinity of San Carlos Bay, Florida. U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class David Micallef

A Coast Guard Station Fort Myers Beach 45-foot Response Boat-Medium boatcrew terminated the voyage of a 48-foot uninspected passenger vessel with eight passengers aboard Thursday, Oct. 3, 2019.  U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class David Micallef

FORT MYERS BEACH, Fla.— The Coast Guard terminated the voyage of a 48-foot uninspected passenger vessel with eight passengers for hire aboard in the vicinity of San Carlos Bay, Florida, Thursday.

A Coast Guard Station Fort Myers Beach 45-foot Response Boat- Medium boatcrew, along with Coast Guard Investigating Officers, boarded the vessel and discovered the vessel was operating in commercial passenger service and was not in compliance with multiple regulations governing uninspected passenger vessels.

Uninspected passenger vessels are only permitted by Coast Guard regulations to carry six passengers for hire, this particular vessel was found operating with eight passengers for hire. In addition to being overloaded, the following violations were noted during the boarding:


  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.

“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 Saint 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. If the operator cannot produce a Merchant Mariner Credential, 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. 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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