The Coast Guard is advising the public to be aware of and avoid unlawful vessel charter operations on navigable waterways.
The Coast Guard has received reports from reputable sources including prominent members of the maritime community and legal passenger vessel operators about illegal passenger vessels conducting charter operations.
Unlawful operations include, but are not limited to:
•Charter services carrying a “Passenger for Hire” without a Coast Guard issued Merchant Mariner’s Credential consistent with offered services.
•Bareboat charter services that provide a vessel with a crew/master or carry more than 12 passengers onboard.
•Charter services that carry more than six passengers, at least one of which are for hire, and are not certified by the Coast Guard.
The public can request to see the captain’s Coast Guard credentials before making a payment.
“Passengers should understand the safety requirements before paying for boating services,” said Capt. Scott Stoermer, commander, Coast Guard Sector Upper Mississippi River. “People have a right to know they are paying for a safe voyage before handing over their money. Vessel-for-hire services with a captain who is not credentialed puts passengers and surrounding boats in danger. Anyone that suspects a passenger vessel is operating illegally should immediately contact the Coast Guard.”
The basic laws and definitions governing charter services can be found in Title 46 United States Code 2101 and Title 46 Code of Federal Regulations 175.000.