USCG Warns of Illegal Vessel Operators in Alaska

Pictured are U.S. Coast Guard decals displayed by charter vessels. If a charter company takes more than six passengers out on federal waterways, the vessel should have a valid Coast Guard Certificate of Inspection posted in a visible location along with an inspection decal. Smaller passenger vessels carrying six or fewer passengers are not required to have a Certificate of Inspection or an inspection decal, but they are still required to be operated by a person with a valid Coast Guard license. U.S. Coast Guard graphic.

Passengers should be mindful of vessels that could be operating illegally in Alaska this season, the U.S. Coast Guard announced Sunday, June 26.

Some boat operators may not have had a proper USCG inspection, training, credentials and/or enrolled in a mandated drug testing program, according to the USCG.

“It is important for the safety of all involved that you do your homework before selecting a charter company,” Cmdr. Jason Boyer, Chief of Prevention, 17th Coast Guard District, said. “Your diligence will help ensure the company meets regulations for required safety equipment and Coast Guard credentials. Don’t place your friends or family at risk, or chance having your voyage cut short by the Coast Guard.”

A good way to see if vessels meet safety regulations is looking at the Marine Exchange of Alaska website (, which lists charter vessels enrolled in the Coast Guard D17 UPV 5 Star Program.

“Past marine accidents and Alaska’s harsh operating environment have pointed to the need for an increase in the level of safety equipment that extends beyond the minimum required by regulation,” the USCG said in a statement. “Charter operators who choose to participate in the 5-Star Safety Program have met all the regulatory requirements, received the UPV decal, and have voluntarily invested in additional safety equipment.”

A boat that usually carries over six passengers on federal waters should possess a Coast Guard inspection decal and display its Coast Guard Certificate of Inspection (COI). All vessel operators need to have a Coast Guard issued Merchant Mariner Credential.

To report illegal operators or to set up an Uninspected Passenger Vessel (UPV) Examination in Alaska, call Western/Southcentral Alaska at (907) 428-4100; Prince William Sound at (907) 428-4100 or Southeast Alaska at (907) 463-2980.

By Pacific Maritime Magazine