TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — The Coast Guard and Tampa Police Department Marine Unit put an end to an illegal charter boat carrying 18 passengers, according to a release.
According to the U.S. Coast Guard, an officer with the St. Petersburg Sector investigated the 43.5-foot passenger boat and found that it was not an inspected vessel. Per regulations, uninspected vessels can only carry six people.
“The Coast Guard will continue to aggressively pursue vessel operators who needlessly place the lives of patrons at risk by not complying with Coast Guard passenger vessel regulations,” said Mr. Brian Knapp, Senior Investigating Officer at Coast Guard Sector St. Petersburg. “We’d like to remind people who charter a boat, they should choose a certified captain and crew. Certified captains should be able to produce a Coast Guard captain license upon request. Additionally, when chartering a boat with more than six passengers ask to see the Coast Guard’s Certificate of Inspection. If the operator cannot produce a Merchant Mariner Credential or a Certificate of Inspection, don’t get on the boat.”
Illegal charter vessel operators and owners can face civil penalties of over $50,000, and those who are credentialed mariners can lose their license.
The vessel in this case was taken to the Tampa Convention Center to drop off its passengers.