MIAMI — Coast Guard law enforcement officers from Station Key West and Marine Safety and Security Team (MSST) New York terminated the voyage of an illegal passenger vessel, Saturday, near Key West.
The 58-foot catamaran, which was carrying eight passengers for hire for a full-day charter, was found with numerous safety and legal violations which included:
• Violation of 46 C.F.R. 67.323 for operating in coastwise trade without the appropriate Certificate of Documentation endorsement.
• Violation of 46 C.F.R. 16.201 for failure to have a random drug testing program.
• Violation of 46 C.F.R. 15.515(b) for not having a credentialed mariner in control while operating as a small passenger vessel.
• Violation of 46 C.F.R. 176.100(a) for not having a valid Certificate of Inspection.
Furthermore, the vessel’s required safety equipment was found inadequate and multiple underage passengers were found intoxicated.
Coast Guard Sector Key West issued a Captain of the Port Order requiring the vessel to immediately cease commercial operations until it is in full compliance with all applicable laws and regulations.
Owners and operators of illegal passenger vessels can face maximum civil penalties of $60,000 or more for illegal passenger for hire operations. Charters that violate a Captain of the Port Order can face a penalty or over $111,031. Some potential civil penalties for illegally operating a passenger vessel are:
Up to $5,661 for failure to provide a Coast Guard Certificate of Inspection for vessels carrying more than six passengers for hire.
Up to $9,086 for failure of operators to be enrolled in a drug and alcohol program.
Up to $19,324 for failure to produce a valid Certificate of Documentation for vessels over 5 gross tons.
“We want the public to have an enjoyable time on the water, but we need that time to be spent with professional mariners in control of vessels which meet the regulatory safety standards,” said Lt. Cmdr Cameron Cooper, chief of prevention at U.S. Coast Guard Sector Key West.
To report a potential illegal charter operating in the Florida Keys, please contact the Sector Key West Command Center at 305-292-8727 or via email at SKW@uscg.mil
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