Coast Guard News: Coast Guard halts illegal charter operation near Watson Island

MIAMI, FL (STL.News) – The Coast Guard terminated the voyage of a 24-foot pontoon vessel with seven passengers aboard Friday near Watson Island after discovering multiple safety violations.

A Coast Guard Station Miami Beach 33-foot Special Purpose Craft—Law Enforcement boat-crew conducted the boarding of the pontoon vessel near Watson Island where they discovered the following violations:

  • Violation of 46 C.F.R. 176.100A for not having a valid Certificate of Inspection.
  • Violation of 46 C.F.R. 15.515B for not having a credentialed mariner in control while operating a small passenger vessel.
  • Violation of 46 C.F.R. 16.201 for failure to have a drug and alcohol program.
  • Violation of 46 C.F.R. 170.120 for failure to have a valid stability letter.

“While we want people to have fun out on the water, safety is always the number one priority,” said Petty Officer 2nd Class Juan Ros, watch-stander at Coast Guard Sector Miami.  “Educating yourself on what to look for in a legitimate operation can help keep you from taking unnecessary risks.”

Owners and operators of illegal charter vessels can face maximum civil penalties of $42,394 for illegal passenger-for-hire operations.  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 $7,250 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 over 5 gross tons.
  • Up to $11,712 for failure to have been issued a valid Stability Letter prior to placing vessel in service with more than six passengers.