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Coast Guard Terminates the Voyage of an Illegal Charter Vessel in Marina Del Rey

A 58-foot pleasure craft named Beirut was boarded by the joint task force while it was cruising September 3 

By Dolores Quintana

While patrolling the waters off Marina Del Rey on Saturday, September 3, the United States Coast Guard in tandem with the Marina Del Rey Sheriffs terminated an illegal charter boat voyage in the harbor. The Coast Guard and Marina Sheriffs patrolled the bay to ensure the public’s safety during the long Labor Day weekend festivities. 

A 58-foot pleasure craft named Beirut was boarded by the joint task force while it was cruising in the waters with 15 passengers aboard. Coast Guard officers suspected that the boat was conducting business illegally and violated no less than four regulations named as follows:

  • Violation of 46 C.F.R. 176.100 (a) for not having a valid Certificate of Inspection
  • Violation of 46 C.F.R 15.805(a)(4) for not having Coast Guard licensed Captain
  • Violation of 46 C.F.R. 67.323 for operating in coastwise trade without the appropriate Certificate of Documentation endorsement.
  • Violation of 46 C.F.R. 16.201 for failure to have a random drug testing program.

During the operation, the Coast Guard issued Beirut’s captain a cease operations order until these violations could be rectified. However, on Sunday, law enforcement officers boarded Beirut again and found it to be operating in violation of the stated regulations and the warning that the vessel’s captain had been issued the previous day. 14 passengers were found to be on board. The Coast Guard added the charge that the vessel was in violation of the terms of the captain of the port order, a violation of 33 CFR 160.105 on top of the 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. Per the regulation, captains are required to have their merchant mariner credentials on board at all times when paying passengers are on board. Coast Guard urges passengers to ask to see their captain’s merchant mariner credential before leaving the dock. Ask your Captain if they are in compliance with Coast Guard regulations.”

The captain of the charter was not reachable for comment at the time of publication. 

Illegal charters are a hazard to maritime safety and to passengers on board all boats in the harbor. The Coast Guard’s rules state that owners and operators of illegal charter boats can face civil penalties for unlawful charter operations. Some potential civil penalties for unlawful charters are:

  • Up to $5,254 for not having a valid Coast Guard Certificate of Inspection for vessels carrying more than six passengers as per 46 U.S.C. 3318(j).
  • Up to $20,719 for failure to operate a passenger vessel without a Coast Guard license as per 46 U.S.C. 8101(g).
  • Up to $17,935 for operating a coastwise trade without appropriate Certificate of Documentation endorsement as per 46 U.S.C. 12151(a)(1)
  • Up to $8,433 for failure to have a random drug testing program as per 46 U.S.C. 2115
  • If a vessel and its captain continue to operate in violation of a Captain of the Port Order, it is a Class D felony punishable by up to six years in prison as per 18 U.S.C. 3581, and a criminal fine up to $250,000 for an individual and $500,000 for an individual organization as per 18 U.S.C. 3571. Civil penalties for violating a Captain of the Port Order can be up to $103,050 as per 46 U.S.C. 70036 (a).

If you would like more information about boating safety, please visit the Coast Guard’s Boating Safety Division (CG-BSX-2) at https://www.uscgboating.org. Anyone who has questions about passenger-for-hire regulations can contact the Sector LA/LB Investigations Division at (310) 521-3770 or email at SECLALB@uscg.mil.

If you are aware of an illegal charter operation, you can report it to the Coast Guard Sector LA/LB Command Center at (310) 521-3801 or LALBCOMMANDCENTER@uscg.mil

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