The U.S. Coast Guard shut down three illegal charter vessels operating in Southern California over Labor Day weekend, the Guard announced.
Sector San Diego halted two illegal charter vessels and their voyages while they carried passengers for hire.
Meanwhile, the USCG teamed up with the Marina Del Rey Sheriff’s law enforcement to stop Beirut, a 58-foot pleasure boat operating an illegal charter vessel with 15 passengers. The vessel is in violation of not having a valid certificate of inspection, not having a Coast Guard-licensed captain, running in coastwise trade without the appropriate certificate of documentation endorsement and for failing to have a random drug testing program, USCG said.
Charter vessel passengers should always check to make sure their captain has a safety plan and a merchant mariner credential, according to the Coast Guard. For larger charter vessels, passengers should check to see a USCG-issued certificate of inspection.
“Illegal charters are a serious risk to their passengers and to other boat operators on the water,” Coast Guard Sector San Diego Cmdr. Jamie Koppi said. “There is a reason for the regulations we put in place; we don’t want lives to be lost and we want everyone to safely share and enjoy the water. We urge anyone suspecting that a vessel is violating the law to report the alleged violation.”
Weeks before the Labor Day weekend bust, members of U.S. Coast Guard Station Los Angeles-Long Beach recently stopped an illegal charter vessel operating in the Newport Beach area of Orange County, California.
A 50-foot pleasure craft, Yachtley Crue, was carrying 12 passengers on Aug. 6 when Coast Guard members found the vessel in violation of 46 C.F.R. 176.100 (a) for not possessing a valid Certificate of Inspection, 46 C.F.R. 67.323 for operating in coastwise trade without the appropriate Certificate of Documentation endorsement and 46 C.F.R. 16.201 for failure to have a random drug testing program, according to the USCG.
“The Coast Guard will aggressively pursue any operator who is putting their customers at risk by operating outside these critical safety requirements,” said Capt. Ryan Manning, Coast Guard Sector L.A.-L.B. commanding officer. “We urge anyone paying for a trip aboard a passenger vessel to ask to see the vessel operator’s Merchant Mariner Credential to verify they are properly licensed by the Coast Guard.”
Offenders could be fined thousands of dollars for operating a charter vessel illegally, including up to $20,719 for operating a passenger vessel without a Coast Guard license.
More information on the Coast Guard’s Boating Safety Division is available at https://www.uscgboating.org.
Questions about passenger-for-hire regulations can be sent to Sector Los Angeles-Long Beach Investigations Division at SECLALB@uscg.mil. Also, illegal charter operations can be reported to sector command at LALBCOMMANDCENTER@uscg.mil.