Coast Guard terminates illegal charter near Tampa Bay

A Coast Guard Station St. Petersburg boarding team inspects the 50-foot uninspected passenger vessel after a Coast Guard Sector St. Petersburg investigating officer terminated the voyage its voyage Jul 2, 2021 near the Tampa Bay Area. The HCSO marine unit crew embarked the nine passengers aboard the vessel and safely transported them ashore. (U.S. Coast Guard photo)

A Coast Guard Station St. Petersburg boarding team inspects the 50-foot uninspected passenger vessel after a Coast Guard Sector St. Petersburg investigating officer terminated the voyage its voyage Jul 2, 2021 near the Tampa Bay Area.. (U.S. Coast Guard photo)

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — A Coast Guard Sector St. Petersburg investigating officer terminated the voyage of a 50-foot uninspected passenger vessel Friday at approximately 5:30 p.m. with nine passengers for hire.

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

Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office marine unit officers embarked the nine passengers aboard their vessel and safely transported them ashore.

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.

“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, Sector St. Petersburg. “When chartering a boat with more than six passengers ask to see the vessel’s Certificate of Inspection, and 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 $60,000 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 $7,846 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.


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