August 16, 2007
Casino ships back in business
The U.S. Coast Guard yesterday allowed two casino ships--Sterling Casino's Ambassador II and Sun Cruz Casinos' Surfside Princess --to resume regularly scheduled cruises from Port Canaveral, Fla.
The previous day, both had been prevented from operating--with the Bahamian-flagged c Ambassador II being the subject of a captain of the port order ordering it out of all U.S. waterways and ports for failing to have a certificate of financial responsibility.
All foreign flagged vessels are required to have a certificate of financial responsibility (COFR) in order to operate in U.S. waters. A COFR helps to ensure that the operating vessel has financial responsibility in case of pollution or accident involving the vessel.
The Coast Guard said that the Ambassador II would not be allowed to re-enter U.S. ports or waterways until it had acquired a valid certificate of financial responsibility, though it allowed to return to Port Canaveral to disembark any passengers and to then depart U.S. waters.
The vessel recently switched management from International Shipping Partners to Sterling Shipping and did not update its certificate of responsibility after the switch.
Clearly, Sterling Shipping did some rapid COFR shopping, because at 11.am. yesterday it was back in business.
In a separate action, "citing numerous safety deficiencies," the Coast Guard on Tuesday would not renew the certificate of inspection of the Port Canaveral-based Surfside Princess, a U.S. flagged vessel owned by Sun Cruz Casinos, will not be allowed to embark passengers until the crew has fixed all of the safety deficiencies and the vessel's certificate of inspection is renewed. No U.S. flagged passenger vessel may operate without a valid certificate of inspection issued by the Coast Guard.
The casino cruise ship was cited for 24-safety deficiencies after an annual safety inspection by the Coast Guard.
Four of those deficiencies marine inspectors called major and included a 20- to-50-gallon per minute leak in the ship's main engine coolant system, a leak in the ship's fire main that was running on an electrical panel, one of the ship's fire pumps was inoperable and discrepancies with the vessel's fire screen doors.
According to local press reports, Sun Cruz crews worked through Tuesday night and early Wednesday morning to remedy the problems.
The Coast Guard reinspected the vessel and it was cleared to resume sailing.