Marine Log

September 16, 2006

USCG relents on White's Ferry

No. The Coast Guard didn't send boarding teams aboard the barge Jubal A. Early when White's Ferry defied an order to cease operation. Coast Guard officials allowed passenger service onboard the White's Ferry to continue after ferry operators came into compliance with federal safety regulations.

The Coast Guard says its primary concern with the White's Ferry operation is the safety of passengers.

The ferry's Certificate Of Inspection (COI) issued by the Coast Guard, specifies the minimum complement of crew necessary for the safe operation of the vessel on U.S. navigable waters. This minimum complement is determined after consideration of the applicable laws, regulations, and all other factors involved, such as emergency situations, size and type of vessel, installed equipment, routes of operation, type of service employed, degree of automation, and the frequency of operations. This minimum complement, by law, includes a licensed master.

The operation of the ferry without a licensed master not only violates Federal law and regulations governing operation of the vessel, but poses an unacceptable risk to passenger safety. For this reason, the vessel's Certificate of Inspection was revoked in accordance with Title 46 Code of Federal Regulations part 176.107(c). Unfortunately the company continued to operate without a valid COI.

As a result, the Captain of the Port issued an order directing the White's Ferry to cease passenger operations in accordance with Section 1323 of Title 33, United States Code.

Failure to have a licensed Master on an inspected small passenger vessel carries a civil penalty of $27,500 per day, and failure to comply with a direction to terminate a voyage or correct unsafe conditions on a vessel subject to inspection carries a penalty of $11,000 per day. Violation of a Captain of the Port order carries a penalty of $32,500 for each violation, and any person who knowingly violates the order may be fined or imprisoned for committing a Class D felony.

The Coast Guard will take appropriate law enforcement action for violations of federal law and regulations to ensure the safety of passengers traveling on U.S. navigable waters.