ST. PETERSBURG — A 50-foot boat operating as an illegal charter carrying nine passengers was shutdown Friday by the Coast Guard, the agency said.
The boat was intercepted by a Coast Guard vessel from Sector St. Petersburg about 5:30 p.m. in an undisclosed location. A Coast Guard officer boarded and investigated the craft and determined it did not have a valid certificate of inspection.
The 50-footer also exceeded Coast Guard regulations only allowing six passengers on a charter, the agency said.
The charter vessel was also cited for other violations, including failure to have a drug and alcohol testing program and failure to have a “credentialed mariner in control while operating a small passenger vessel,” the agency said.
A Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office boat took the nine passengers back to shore. The Coast Guard did not release the name of the operator or crew members of the charter. However, the owner and operator of an illegal charter vessel with illegal passenger-for-hire operations can face up to $60,000 in fines. This vessel’s operator could face additional fines.
The Coast Guard warns the public to check the vessel’s certificate of inspection and ask the operator to produce a merchant mariner credential before getting on the boat.