Coast guard prohibits illegal charters near Hula Bay
The U.S. Coast Guard says an irregular charter near Hula Bay has been terminated Thursday. A 45-foot Coast Guard Station St. Petersburg Response Boat-Medium law enforcement team, terminated the voyage of a 26-foot uninspected passenger vessel with 12 hire
Throughout the boarding process, the boarding team decided the vessel's operator was the holder of a certificate for a Coast Guard merchant mariner. In addition to criminal penalties, the Coast Guard may seek suspension and revocation of credentials of the merchant mariner.
Coast Guard regulations only allow uninspected passenger vessels to carry six passengers for hire with a master holding 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. 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,” said Mr. Brian Knapp, Senior Investigating Officer at Coast Guard Sector St. Petersburg.
Illegal charter vessel owners and operators will face gross civil fines of more than $50,000 for unlawful passenger-for-hire operations.
Maritime Business World