Boarding team members from Coast Guard Station Yankeetown stopped four unsafe passenger vessels operating on the Crystal River, Fla., and in the vicinity of Homosassa, Fla., Dec. 29, through Dec. 31, 2008.
During random safety boardings, crewmembers discovered two commercial vessels operated by Stadt Aquatic Adventures operating with more than their maximum allowable passengers. Additionally, Yankeetown crews discovered that the captain of the second vessel failed to properly report a marine casualty involving one of its main engines. The Coast Guard terminated both voyages for the safety infractions and will seek civil penalties against Stadt Aquatic Adventures. The Coast Guard will also pursue action to suspend the captains’ licenses for failing to comply with proper safety procedures.
Two commercial passenger vessels were boarded in Homosassa, Wednesday, by a boarding team from Station Yankeetown and were also found to be operating in an unsafe manner. The first vessel was operating with more than its six allowable passengers and without the required number of fire extinguishers and personal floatation devices. Additionally, the operator was not enrolled in a drug-testing program as required by federal law. The second vessel was also cited for operating with more than its six allowable passengers and failing to have a drug-testing program. Both voyages were terminated and the Coast Guard will seek civil penalties and suspension of the operator’s licenses.
"Coast Guard regulations require all commercial inspected vessels carrying more than six passengers to successfully pass a rigorous safety inspection to obtain a Certificate of Inspection," said Coast Guard Lt. Matt Dooris, Sector St. Petersburg senior investigating officer. "The safety certificate attests to the vessel’s compliance with established structural stability, lifesaving, firefighting and navigational standards, as well as safe operating conditions and crew competencies."
The Coast Guard, in concert with state and local partners, actively investigates all reports of unsafe passenger vessel operations, imposing civil or criminal penalties where appropriate. Mariners who anticipate being a passenger on a vessel carrying more than six paying passengers, should ensure the vessel has satisfactorily passed a Coast Guard safety inspection before the voyage. To verify that this requirement has been satisfied, ask to see the vessel’s Certificate of Inspection, or Coast Guard Safety decal aboard the vessel.
Owners and operators who want to carry more than six paying passengers must receive a Coast Guard safety inspection by the local Officer In Charge of Marine Inspection.