Coast Guard terminates multiple illegal charters in Miami during Super Bowl week

Members of the Maritime Safety and Security Team Miami patrol the security zone in the vicinity of Bayfront Park Jan. 29, 2020. (U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class Jonathan Lally)

Members of the Maritime Safety and Security Team Miami patrol the security zone in the vicinity of Bayfront Park Jan. 29, 2020. (U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class Jonathan Lally)

MIAMI – The Coast Guard terminated the voyages of multiple vessels operating as illegal charters in Miami waters during the week leading up to Super Bowl LIV.

Coast Guard Sector Miami boat crews, including multiple law enforcement teams brought in to assist this week, have been targeting illegal charter operations. Since Saturday, boarding teams have terminated the voyages of seven passenger vessels operating as illegal charters. These vessels were not in compliance with a multitude of passenger vessel regulations, which included:

  • Failure to have an appropriately licensed mariner in control of the vessel,
  • Failure to have a valid drug and alcohol program,
  • Failure to have a valid Certificate of Inspection,
  • Failure to have a valid stability letter,
  • Failure to have the required lifesaving and/or firefighting equipment on board and
  • Failure to have a drug and alcohol testing program.

“Illegal operators typically use online platforms to sell their charters, leading customers to believe that the services being offered are legitimate and in full compliance with federal laws and regulations,” said Lt. Cmdr. Jason Neiman, Coast Guard 7th District public affairs officer.”If you are visiting Miami this weekend, be extremely careful with who and how you book a trip on the water. Illegal charters are dangerous, the operators only care about your money, and not your safety.”

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.

Illegal charters have resulted in property damage, injuries and three deaths in South Florida. On April 1, 2018, a passenger was fatally injured after being struck by a vessel’s propeller aboard the yacht Miami Vice, an illegal charter operating out of Miami. The operator was a non-credentialed mariner that failed to follow proper safety regulations, resulting in a person’s death.

The Coast Guard will continue to aggressively pursue illegal operators and hold them accountable. On average, the Coast Guard terminates 40 illegal passenger vessels a year, totaling more than $2 million in proposed penalties. Criminal prosecution of these illegal operators has been pursued when warranted.


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