A 58ft pleasure craft named Beirut was boarded by the Joint Task Force while sailing on September 3
By Dolores Quintana
While patrolling the waters off Marina Del Rey on Saturday, September 3, the United States Coast Guard, in conjunction with Marina Del Rey Sheriffs, terminated an illegal charter boat trip in the port. Coast Guard and Marina Sheriffs patrolled the bay to ensure public safety during the long Labor Day weekend festivities.
A 58ft pleasure craft named Beirut was taken on board by the joint task force as it sailed through the waters with 15 passengers on board. Coastguard officers suspected that the boat was operating illegally and broke no less than four regulations named as follows:
- Violation of 46 CFR 176.100(a) for not having a valid inspection certificate
- Violation of 46 CFR 15.805(a)(4) for not having a master licensed by the Coast Guard
- Violation of 46 CFR 67.323 for operating in coastal commerce without proper documentation certificate approval.
- Violation of 46 CFR 16.201 for failing to have a random drug testing program.
During the operation, the Coast Guard issued Captain Beirut an order to halt operations until these violations could be rectified. However, on Sunday law enforcement officers boarded Beirut again and found that it was operating in violation of current regulations and the warning the ship’s captain had issued the previous day. 14 passengers were found on board. The Coast Guard added the charge that the vessel violated the terms of the Harbor Master’s Order, a violation of 33 CFR 160.105 in addition to previous violations.
Lt. Brett Losey, Investigations Officer, Coast Guard Sector Los Angeles-Long Beach, said, via a press release, “Illegal passenger operations pose a significant safety concern to the public. Coast Guard safety regulations require any captain operating a boat carrying more than six paying passengers to hold a Coast Guard license. In accordance with the regulations, captains are required to have their merchant seaman credentials on board at all times when fare-paying passengers are on board. The Coast Guard urges passengers to ask to see their captain’s Merchant Seaman title before leaving the dock. Ask your captain if they follow Coast Guard regulations.
The charter captain could not be reached for comment at the time of publication.
Illegal charters are a danger to maritime safety and to passengers on board all vessels in the port. Coast Guard rules state that owners and operators of illegal charter boats can face civil penalties for illegal charter operations. Some potential civil penalties for illegal charters are:
- Up to $5,254 for not having a valid Coast Guard inspection certificate for vessels carrying more than six passengers pursuant to 46 USC 3318(j).
- Up to $20,719 for failure to operate a passenger vessel without a Coast Guard license pursuant to 46 USC 8101(g).
- Up to $17,935 for operating a coastal business without proper documentation certificate approval pursuant to 46 USC 12151(a)(1)
- Up to $8,433 for failure to participate in a random drug testing program pursuant to 46 USC 2115
- If a vessel and its master continue to operate in violation of an order of the Harbor Master, it is a Class D felony punishable by up to six years in prison pursuant to 18 USC 3581, and a criminal fine of up to $250,000 for an individual and $500,000 for an individual organization per 18 USC 3571. Civil penalties for violating a Harbor Master’s Order can be up to $103,050 under 46 USC 70036(a).
If you would like more information on boating safety, please visit the Coast Guard Boating Safety Division (CG-BSX-2) at https://www.uscgboating.org. Anyone with questions about for-hire passenger regulations can contact the LA/LB Sector Investigations Division at (310) 521-3770 or by email at [email protected]
If you are aware of an illegal charter operation, you may report it to the LA/LB Coast Guard Sector Command Center at (310) 521-3801 or [email protected]