Coast Guard arrests Miami charter operator

The Coast Guard terminated the voyage of the 45-foot pleasure craft, Breaking the Habit, with 12 passengers aboard Saturday near American Airlines Arena in Miami.

Watchstanders determined that the vessel was operating illegally and in violation of a previous Captain of the Port order. This is the second time within a month the vessel was discovered operating as an illegal charter. A Coast Guard Station Miami Beach boarding team conducted the boarding of the pleasure craft and discovered the following violations:

  • Violation of 46 C.F.R. 176.100A for not having a valid Certificate of Inspection (COI).
  • Violation of 46 C.F.R. 15.515B for not having a credentialed mariner in control while operating a small passenger vessel.
  • Violation of 46 C.F.R. 15.401A for employment of an individual without the appropriate license.
  • Violation of 46 C.F.R. 16.201 for failure to have a drug and alcohol program.
  • Violation of 46 C.F.R. 170.120 for failure to have a valid stability letter.
  • Violation of 46 C.F.R. 67.7 for a vessel of greater than 5 gross tons not having a certificate of documentation with appropriate endorsement.
  • Violation of 33 C.F.R. 160.105 for failure to comply with a Captain of the Port Order.

A Coast Guard Investigative Service Special Agent arrests a suspected illegal charter vessel operator, Sept. 21, 2019, in Miami. Coast Guard Sector Miami watchstanders determined that the vessel was operating illegally and in violation of a previous Captain of the Port order. Coast Guard Photo

Coast Guard Investigative Service Special Agents placed the vessel owner under arrest.

“The Coast Guard will continue to aggressively pursue vessel operators who place the lives of patrons at risk by not complying with Coast Guard passenger vessel regulations,” said Petty Officer 2nd Class Ricky Perilla, Boarding Officer at Coast Guard Station Miami Beach. “Using unqualified operators puts yourself, passengers and other boaters in danger. Before you step off the pier onto a boat you charter, you should ask to see the captain’s boating license, request to see their certificate of inspection and their safety plan.”

Owners and operators of illegal charter vessels can face maximum civil penalties of over $59,000 for illegal passenger-for-hire-operations. Charters that violate a Captain of the Port Order can face over $94,000 in penalties. Some potential fines for illegally operating a charter vessel are:

Up to $7,710 for failure of operators to be enrolled in a chemical testing program.

Up to $4,803 for failure to provide a Coast Guard COI for vessels carrying more than six passengers.

Up to $16,398 for failure to produce a valid Certificate of Documentation for vessels over 5 gross tons.

Up to $12,007 for failure to have been issued a valid Stability Letter prior to placing vessel in service with more than six passengers.

Up to $94,219 for every day of failure to comply with a Captain of the Port Order.

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U.S. Coast Guard

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