The Coast Guard has issued a notice of violations to a recreational boat rental company operating as an illegal charter business out of North Myrtle Beach, S.C.
On May 19, Coast Guard personnel directly observed a recreational vessel being operated by an unlicensed master with two paying passengers on board along the Intracoastal Waterway.
The master was an employee of Action Watersportz, LLC, owned by Asymmetrical, LLC, and did not possess a valid Merchant Mariner Credential (MMC). Although sold as a rental, the situation meets the criteria of an illegal charter.
The following actions were taken:
Letter of Warning (LOW) in lieu of Civil Penalty for the operator
- 46 CFR 15.401 (“Employment of individual, or service in aposition by an individual, without the appropriate license”)
Notice of Violations (NOV) for owner:
- 46 CFR 15.605 (“Failure to have an uninspected passenger vessel under the control of a properly licensed individual”)
- 46 CFR 16.201 (“Failure of marine employer to comply with the requirements concerning chemical testing of personnel in accordance witht his subpart and 49 CFR Part 40”)
- 46 CFR 15.401 (“Employment of individual, or service in a position by an individual, without the appropriate license”)
The NOVs will total $2,000 for a first offense.
“We can’t stress enough the importance of asking the captain to verify his license and looking into the charter company that you are going to book – if you’re a passenger, paying for a ride you should expect and verify the operator to have followed the regulations for licensing,” said Capt. John Reed, Commander, Sector Charleston. “Enforcement of these regulations will directly contribute to the safety of passengers and will level the playing field as the majority of charter operators maintain their credentials and comply with uninspected passenger vessel regulations.”
In addition, the Coast Guard has seen an increase in personal watercraft (PWC) rentals and guided tours in the Myrtle Beach area and several have been identified as potential illegal charter operations. An illegal charter operation could exist when a guest does not operate their own PWC and instead is with a guide who does not hold a valid MMC.