By Gina Yarbrough
San Diego, CA–U.S. Coast Guard crews terminated an illegal charter operating in the vicinity of the USS Midway in the San Diego Bay.
On Oct. 6, a Coast Guard boarding team conducted a safety inspection of the vessel, which had 14 individuals on board, including 12 passengers for hire and two non-credentialed crew members.
Following the inspection, the Coast Guard determined that the vessel was operating as an illegal small passenger vessel and issued citations for lacking a valid Certificate of Inspection, failure to possess a valid Certificate of Documentation for a vessel over five net tons, failure to employ a properly credentialed mariner, and to have a drug and alcohol program.
Commander Jamie Koppi, prevention department head at Coast Guard Sector San Diego, emphasized the Coast Guard’s commitment to pursuing vessel operators who disregard passenger vessel regulations, putting lives at risk. She urged individuals to request the captain’s credentials and safety plan before boarding a vessel, to ensure their safety and that of their loved ones.
Owners and operators of illegal charter vessels can face civil penalties for their unlawful operations, including a fine of up to $5,661 for lacking a valid Coast Guard Certificate of Inspection for vessels carrying more than six passengers.
Violation of a Captain of the Port Order is a Class D felony, punishable by up to six years in prison, and a criminal fine of up to $250,000 for individuals and $500,000 for organizations. Civil penalties for violating a Captain of the Port Order can reach up to $111,031.