Illegal charter vessel operator hit with $98,364 civil penalty

Written by Marine Log Staff
Illegal charter vessel operation

Coast Guard Station Destin boarding team members and Okaloosa County Sheriff's Office officers terminated an illegal passenger-for-hire operation after determining the vessel was carrying more than 6 passengers without a valid Certificate of Inspection Destin, Florida, April 10, 2022. [U.S. Coast Guard photo]

With illegal charters continuing to pose a safety problem, the U.S. Coast Guard has imposed a civil penalty of $98,364 on a mariner found operating a charter vessel in violation of federal laws near Destin, Fla.

Coast Guard Station Destin boarding team members, Sector Mobile Marine Investigators and Okaloosa County Sheriff’s Office officers conducted multiple boardings of the pontoon boot involved in the case over the past year after receiving tips from concerned members of the public.

Following an extensive investigation led by Coast Guard Sector Mobile’s Investigations Division, it was determined that on multiple occasions the operator of the vessel was in violation of 46 C.F.R. 176.100(a), failure to provide a Certificated of Inspection while carrying more than six passengers for hire, and of 33 C.F.R. 160.105, failure to comply with a Captain-of-the-Port Order. As a result, a Coast Guard Hearing Officer imposed the $98,364 civil penalty on February 6.

“Operators of illegal charters directly endanger our citizens,” said Capt. Ulysses Mullins, Commander of Coast Guard Sector Mobile. “It is a top priority for Sector Mobile to ensure charter vessels operate safely and in full compliance with the law. The Coast Guard, along with our state and local law enforcement partners, will continue to educate the public and vigorously pursue those individuals who violate the statutory and regulatory requirements of the Passenger Vessel Safety Act.”

Owners and operators of illegally chartered passenger vessels may be subject to civil penalties of $60,000 or more for illegal passenger-for-hire-operations. Illegal charters that violate a Captain-of-the-Port Order may be subject to civil penalties of $95,000 per violation.

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