Coast Guard warns against illegal operations in San Juan Bay

Station San Juan 45-Foot Response Boat-Medium file photo photo by Ricardo Castrodad

Station San Juan 45-Foot Response Boat-Medium file photo photo by Ricardo Castrodad

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico – The Coast Guard announced Wednesday that its crews will be on the lookout for illegal passenger for hire operations in the San Juan Bay during the San Sebastián Street Festival from Jan. 19 to 22.

“We urge the public seeking to reach the San Sebastián Street Festival via the maritime route to use the local ferry system operated by HMS Ferries and to be vigilant and not hire the services of an illegal operator,” said Lt. Cmdr. Christopher O’Connor, Coast Guard Sector San Juan chief of prevention. “Illegal operators represent a risk to maritime vessel and passenger safety, so it is of vital importance we raise awareness to avoid any incidents during the event.”

During the celebrations, Coast Guard crews will patrol the port area to ensure the safe and legal transportation of passengers within San Juan Bay. Vessel operators who carry passengers for hire without the proper license face the termination of the voyage and possible fines that may range from $1,000 to a maximum of $18,477.

“Only a captain licensed by the Coast Guard can transport passengers for hire and must do so in a vessel that has the proper lifesaving equipment onboard. It is important that the public does not contract the services of an operator who presents their vessel for hire and refuses or fails to present their captain credentials,” said Lt. Cmdr. O’Connor.

The Coast Guard reminds that the owners and/or operators are responsible for the safe operation of their recreational vessels, and they must have all the required safety equipment. Similarly, operating a recreational vessel under the influence of alcohol with a blood alcohol level of .08 percent or more is illegal and offenders face termination of their voyage, fines, and up to three years in prison. Additionally, operators of commercial vessels who operate with a level of or greater than .04 percent are exposed to losing their captain’s license.

If you know of an operator carrying out an illegal passenger for hire operation you may contact the Coast Guard Command Center at 787-289-2041.

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