USCG halts 2 illegal charters near Miami, Fort Lauderdale
The U.S. Coast Guard says it has terminated the voyages of two separate vessels near Miami and Fort Lauderdale during the weekend after discovering multiple safety violations.
A Coast Guard Station Fort Lauderdale 33-foot Special Purpose Craft-Law Enforcement boatcrew conducted a boarding Saturday at approximately 1 p.m., on the 49-foot pleasure craft, Meridian, with 14 people aboard in the vicinity of Haulover Inlet and discovered two violations (for not having a valid Certificate of Inspection and for failure to have a valid Stability Letter).
At approximately 5:30 p.m., a Coast Guard Station Miami Beach 33-foot Special Purpose Craft-Law Enforcement boatcrew conducted a boarding on a 20-foot pontoon boat with 11 people aboard, in the vicinity of Picnic Island and discovered five violations (for not having a valid Certificate of Inspection, for failure to have a valid stability letter, for not having a credentialed mariner in control while operating a small passenger vessel, etc).
“The Coast Guard will continue to aggressively pursue vessel operators who place the lives of patrons at risk by not complying with Coast Guard passenger vessel regulations,” said Petty Officer 2nd Class Frank J. Buckley, a Coast Guard boarding officer with Station Fort Lauderdale. “I want to remind people that before getting underway, ask to see the captain’s credentials, vessel inspection certificate, and safety plan. If there is any doubt, don’t go. Don’t put your life and the lives of your family and friends in the hands of an unlicensed operator.”
Owners and operators of illegal charter vessels can face maximum civil penalties of $59,000 for illegal passenger-for-hire-operations and over. Charters that violate a Captain of the Port Order can face more than $94,000 in penalties. Some potential fines for illegally operating a charter vessel are:
Up to $7,710 for failure of operators to be enrolled in a chemical 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 $12,007 for failure to have been issued a valid Stability Letter prior to placing vessel in service with more than six passengers.