Coast Guard Stops Illegal Charter Boat Near Demens Landing
Owners and operators of illegal charter vessels can face maximum civil penalties of more than $50,000 for illegal passenger-for-hire operations.
ST. PETERSBURG – The Coast Guard terminated an illegal charter Saturday (May 9) near Demens Landing Park.
A Coast Guard Station St. Petersburg 29-foot Response Boat—Small law enforcement crew terminated the voyage of a 21-foot uninspected passenger vessel with 9 passengers for hire.
The violations include failure to have a credentialed mariner in control while operating a small passenger vessel, not having a valid certificate of inspection, failure to have a drug and alcohol program, and failure to have a valid stability letter.
Boarding team members said the vessel operator was not the holder of a Coast Guard merchant mariner credential. Uninspected passenger vessels are only permitted by Coast Guard regulations to carry six
passengers for hire with a master who holds a merchant mariner credential.
“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 Brian Knapp, senior investigating officer at Coast Guard Sector St. 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. Additionally, when chartering a boat with more than six passengers, ask to see the Coast Guard’s certificate of inspection. 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 more than $50,000 for illegal passenger-for-hire operations. Potential fines for illegally operating a charter vessel include
- 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 more than five gross tons.
- Up to $11,712 for failure to have been issued a valid stability letter before to placing vessel in service with more than six passengers.
PHOTO BY PETTY OFFICER SECOND CLASS DAVID MICALLEF COURTESY OF U.S. COAST GUARD DISTRICT 7.
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