An official website of the United States government
Here's how you know
A .mil website belongs to an official U.S. Department of Defense organization in the United States.
A lock (lock ) or https:// means you’ve safely connected to the .mil website. Share sensitive information only on official, secure websites.

Press Release | May 17, 2023

Coast Guard halts illegal charter in Tampa Bay

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — The Coast Guard terminated an illegal charter on Tampa Bay, Sunday.

A Coast Guard Station St. Petersburg boatcrew boarded a 27-foot vessel being operated as a bareboat charter with four passengers for hire at the St. Petersburg Municipal Marina.

During the examination it was determined the vessel being operating as an illegal small passenger vessel due to the charterer not having a choice of crew. The Coast Guard officers also found the vessel’s operator was not a holder of a merchant mariner credential. The passengers stated they were not afforded the opportunity to select the vessel operator and understood the vessel was chartered with a crew provided.

“Under a bareboat charter contract, the person who rents the charter must be given the option to hire any captain of their choosing, or operate the boat themselves,” said Brian Knapp, senior investigating officer at Coast Guard Sector St. Petersburg. “If a bareboat renter is assigned a captain without any options, the bareboat charter designation no longer applies. We urge bareboat patrons to review and become familiar with the bareboat charter regulations before paying for a charter, anyone paying for a trip on a traditional passenger vessel should ask to see the merchant mariner credential of the boat operator to verify their captain is properly licensed by the Coast Guard. If the captain can’t produce their license, don’t get on the boat.”

The violations include:

46 CFR 25.25-5 (b)(1) – Failure to have on board at least one wearable personal flotation device (PFD) for each person on board.

 46 CFR 25.25-5 (b)(3) – Failure to have at least one approved lifebuoy on board the vessel.

46 CFR 25.30-20 (a)(1) – Failure to have a serviced portable fire extinguisher.

46 CFR 15.605 – Failure to have a credentialed mariner in control while operating as an uninspected passenger vessel.

46 CFR 16.201 – Failure to have a drug and alcohol program.

33 CFR 173.21 – Failure to provide vessel registration.

The Coast Guard conducts safety examinations to make certain vessels are in full compliance with all Federal and State boating laws to ensure safety of passengers and the boating community.

Anyone suspecting a vessel of violating the law, report the alleged violation to Coast Guard Sector St. Petersburg at 727-502-8720.