San Diego, CA–Coast Guard Sector San Diego and San Diego Harbor Police personnel have completed more than 140 safety boardings in 2021 to identify and terminate unlicensed and illegal charter boat operations along California’s southern coast, with one termination resulting in a civil penalty.
In March, a Coast Guard Sector San Diego crew identified and terminated a 19-foot runabout state-registered vessel for failing to have a credentialed mariner aboard while carrying passengers for hire, insufficient number of life jackets, insufficient lifesaving equipment, and loading the vessel beyond the vessel manufacturer’s specifications.
Through the administrative process, the Coast Guard recommended a civil penalty of $81,286 for the violation of federal laws and disregard for passenger safety.
The primary goal of ending illegal charters in San Diego is to increase passenger safety. Frequent examinations by Coast Guard investigators have identified a direct correlation between maritime passenger fatalities and illegal charters.
Illegal charter vessel operations pose a threat to passenger safety. An illegal charter operator may dangerously overload a vessel, possess an unlicensed operator that is more likely to engage in negligent operations due to a lack of training, possess inadequate safety and lifesaving equipment and often fails to comply with vessel maintenance and construction standards.
During the summer months, the Coast Guard Sector San Diego Captain of the Port advises the public to exercise caution before operating or chartering a vessel.
Chartered vessels must have a credentialed master aboard, and the master and crew enrolled in a Department of Transportation Drug and Alcohol Testing program. All vessels must have proper documentation and carry safety equipment aboard. If carrying more than six passengers, the vessel must hold a Certificate of Inspection issued by the Coast Guard.
For additional recreational boating safety information, passengers can visit www.uscgboating.org.