The Coast Guard caught and ended the illegal operation of a charter vessel last year. These illegal operations carry harsh penalties due to the danger they pose to the public.
In the example mentioned above, the Coast Guard and Okaloosa County Sheriff’s Office identified and suspended an illegal charter operation near Florida.
The vessel was carrying more than 6 paying passengers, violating the 6-person on board maximum limit, and boating without a valid Certificate of Inspection. In addition, the operator on board was boating under the influence of alcohol.
In the above case, the Sheriff’s Office approached the vessel after suspecting the captain was chartering the vessel under the influence. Upon failing a field sobriety test, he was immediately arrested and taken into police custody.
The vessel at issue had an active Captain Order restricting the number of passengers to no more than 6, which this vessel exceeded. In addition, the ship violated a Captain of the Port Order, a grave offense, for operating without a valid Certificate of Inspection. Unfortunately, illegal charter operations happen all over the country.
Other serious violations resulting in illegal charter operations include, among others:
- Boating without proper documentation
- Failing to operate a vessel without appropriate floating devices
- Lack of a drug and alcohol program
- Failing to hire a credentialed Captain
- Lack of a merchant mariner credential
Penalties for illegal charter operations
Illegal charter operations can result in harsh penalties. Owners and those who operate vessels face fines of up to 60,000 if they fail to fulfill all mandatory requirements, and violations of a Captain of the Port Order carries a penalty of up to $95,881.