Illegal charter in Tampa Bay shut down by Coast Guard, Tampa police

Hillsborough County

Photo by Petty Officer 1st Class Ayla Hudson/ US Coast Guard

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (WFLA) – The Coast Guard and Tampa Police Department Marine Unit put an end to an illegal charter boat carrying 13 passengers, according to a release.

According to the U.S. Coast Guard, a Coast Guard Sector St. Petersburg boarding team investigated the 48-foot passenger boat and found that was operating as a bareboat charter with 13 passengers for hire.

After investigation, Coast Guard officers deemed the boat was operating as an illegal small passenger vessel, terminated the charter’s voyage,

“Under a bareboat charter contract, the person who rents the charter must be given the option to hire any captain of their choosing, or operate the boat themselves,” said Brian Knapp, Senior Investigating Officer at Coast Guard Sector St. Petersburg. “If a bareboat renter is assigned a captain without any options, the bareboat charter designation no longer applies.

Illegal charter vessel operators and owners can face civil penalties of over $60,000, and those who are credentialed mariners can lose their license.

Police escorted the boat and passengers back to downtown Tampa.

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