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Local Coast Guard terminates voyage of an illegal charter vessel

The Coast Guard terminated the voyage of an illegal charter vessel during a joint operation with the Marina Del Rey Sheriffs while patrolling the harbor to ensure boater safety in Marina Del Rey over Labor Day weekend.

A law enforcement team boarded the 58-foot pleasure craft, Beirut, which was operating with 15 passengers onboard. The Coast Guard alleged that the vessel was operating illegally as a small passenger vessel and was in violation of the following regulations:

  • Violation of 46 C.F.R. 176.100 (a) for not having a valid Certificate of Inspection
  • Violation of 46 C.F.R 15.805(a)(4) for not having Coast Guard licensed Captain
  • Violation of 46 C.F.R. 67.323 for operating in coastwise trade without the appropriate Certificate of Documentation endorsement.
  • Violation of 46 C.F.R. 16.201 for failure to have a random drug testing program.

Saturday evening the Coast Guard issued the vessel a captain of the port order to cease operations as a small passenger vessel until the operators of the Beirut rectified the alleged violations.

A law enforcement team boarded the Beirut again on Sunday and found it to be operating with 14 passengers onboard. In addition to the above allegations, the Coast Guard noted that the vessel was in violation of the terms of the captain of the port order, a violation of 33 CFR 160.105.

“Illegal passenger operations pose a significant safety concern to the public,” said Lt. Brett Losey, investigations officer, Coast Guard Sector Los Angeles-Long Beach. “Coast Guard safety regulations require any captain operating a boat carrying more than six paying passengers to hold a Coast Guard license. Per the regulation, captains are required to have their merchant mariner credential on board at all times when paying passengers are on board. Coast Guard urges passengers to ask to see their captain’s merchant mariner credential before leaving the dock. Ask your Captain if they are in compliance with Coast Guard regulations.”

Owners and operators of illegal charter boats can face civil penalties for illegal charters operations. Some potential civil penalties for illegal charters are:

  • Up to $5,254 for not having a valid Coast Guard Certificate of Inspection for vessels carrying more than six passengers as per 46 U.S.C. 3318(j).
  • Up to $20,719 for failure to operate a passenger vessel without a Coast Guard license as per 46 U.S.C. 8101(g).
  • Up to $17,935 for operating a coastwise trade without appropriate Certificate of Documentation endorsement as per 46 U.S.C. 12151(a)(1)
  • Up to $8,433 for failure to have a random drug testing program as per 46 U.S.C. 2115
  • Violation of a Captain of the Port Order is a Class D felony which is punishable by up to six years in prison as per 18
  • U.S.C. 3581, and a criminal fine up to $250,000 for an individual and $500,000 for an organization as per 18 U.S.C. 3571. Civil penalties for violating a Captain of the Port Order can be up to $103,050 as per 46 U.S.C. 70036 (a).

For additional recreational boating safety information, please visit the Coast Guard’s Boating Safety Division (CG-BSX-2) at https://www.uscgboating.org.

Individuals with questions regarding passenger-for-hire regulations can contact the Sector LA/LB Investigations Division at (310) 521-3770 or email at [email protected]

Illegal charter operations can be reported to the Coast Guard Sector LA/LB Command Center at (310) 521-3801 or [email protected]

Alternatively, questions may be forwarded to Coast Guard District 11 Prevention, Inspections & Investigations office by email to [email protected]\

This article was released by the U.S. Coast Guard.