The Coast Guard conducted an enforcement operation on Lake of the Ozarks this past weekend ensuring passenger for hire vessels were operating in accordance with federal law.

Following multiple reports of illegal commercial charter vessels, Coast Guard Sector Upper Mississippi River boarding teams terminated the voyages of the motor vessels Tiki 1, Tiki 2, Fullhouse 1 and Fullhouse 2. All four vessels were conducting unlawful operations with passenger-for-hire excursions, to include not having a proper inspection and not having a credentialed mariner in charge.

"Passengers on board any chartered vessel are encouraged to be alert for deceptive practices and should ask the vessel operator to produce a valid Coast Guard issued Merchant Mariner's Credential suitable for the boat's service," Capt. Mick Scott, Coast Guard Captain of the Port, St. Louis, said in a statement. "Credentialed seafarers have met federal requirements and inspected vessels have satisfied high safety standards. Paying passengers are taking an undue safety risk by riding on a vessel that has not been inspected as required by federal law. They also add to that risk when there is not a credentialed mariner in charge."

Charter services that are found to be operating illegally can be subject to criminal or civil penalties. The total penalty under federal law that could be levied against the operators of the terminated vessels could be as high as $53,374.