Coast Guard terminates illegal charter on Lake Washington

Coast Guard 25-foot Response Boat-Small File Photo

Coast Guard 25-foot Response Boat-Small File Photo

SEATTLE — The Coast Guard terminated an illegal charter Saturday near Mercer Island on Lake Washington.

A Coast Guard Station Seattle boarding team observed a 38-foot vessel which had 15 passengers and one non-credentialed mariner operating as an illegal passenger-for-hire operation.

The vessel was also knowingly operating in violation of an order by the Captain of the Port issued to the vessel in December ordering the owner to cease operations as an uninspected passenger vessel carrying any passengers for hire until appropriate regulatory requirements were met.

The vessel operator was cited for several violations, and the Coast Guard is pursuing additional enforcement options to deter future unsafe operations.

“Illegally chartered vessels undermine legitimate operations and pose significant safety concerns to everyone onboard,” said Lt. Alex Cropley, commanding officer of Coast Guard Station Seattle. “Terminating these dangerous voyages and educating the boating public is our top priority. If you encounter vessels operating in an unsafe manner or suspect an illegal charter operation, call the Coast Guard on VHF-FM channel 16.”

Are you planning on getting on the water for Memorial Day Weekend?

In conjunction with National Safe Boating Week, the Coast Guard highly encourages passengers who are planning on hiring a vessel for charter to verify their captain has a safety plan and a Coast Guard issued credential. For larger charter boats, or those with more than six passengers, ask to see a Coast Guard-issued Certificate of Inspection. If the operator cannot produce the appropriate credentials, passengers are recommended to not get on the boat and report the operator to the Coast Guard.

Owners and operators of illegal charter vessels can face potential civil penalties of $59,000 for illegal passenger-for-hire operations. Charters that violate a Captain of the Port Order can face more than $94,000 in penalties for each day the vessel is in violation. Repeated violations of a Captain of the Port Order can result in criminal charges. Some potential fines for illegally operating a charter vessel include:

  • Up to $7,710 for failure of operators to be enrolled in a chemical (drug) testing program.
  • Up to $4,803 for failure to provide a Coast Guard Certificate of Inspection for vessels carrying more than six passengers.
  • Up to $16,398 for failure to produce a valid Certificate of Documentation for vessels over 5 gross tons.
  • Up to $94,219 per day for failure to comply with a Captain of the Port Order.

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