The following is the text of a news release from the U.S. Coast Guard:
(LOS ANGELES) — Coast Guard investigators at Sector Los Angeles-Long Beach identified and ordered the cessation of activities on an illegal passenger vessel operating in Long Beach on March 2.
The vessel Orion, operated by Angel’s Ashes charter company, is suspected of taking passengers for hire while operating out of Long Beach Harbor. Coast Guard Capt. Jennifer Williams, commanding officer, Sector Los Angeles-Long Beach, issued a captain of the port order to the vessel’s owner to immediately cease operations as a commercial passenger vessel.
Vessels carrying at least one passenger for hire but no more than six passengers require at minimum, a Coast Guard credentialed operator who holds a valid “Operator Uninspected Passenger Vessel.”
Vessels carrying more than six passengers with at least one passenger for hire require a Coast Guard credentialed (licensed) master. The vessel must also be inspected by the Coast Guard, with the vessel’s certificate of inspection posted in a location visible to passengers.
Illegal passenger vessels pose a number of safety risks to passengers including:
• Captain and crew may lack necessary training and experience
• Inadequate or lack of drills, exercises, or passenger safety briefings
• A lack of required pre-employment and random drug-testing program for crewmembers
• Insufficient lifesaving or firefighting equipment
• Substandard hull construction, stability, machinery, electrical, safety railings and navigational equipment.
In addition to the noted safety concerns, illegal passenger vessel operations adversely impact the livelihood of legitimate commercial passenger vessel owners that comply with all regulatory standards to conduct such operations. The Coast Guard will pursue enforcement action against vessel owners, operators and credentialed mariners who are found operating an illegal passenger vessel in violation of the U.S. Code and the Code of Federal Regulations.
Operating an illegal passenger vessel often violates several regulations and statutes potentially resulting in civil penalties in excess of $35,000 depending on the severity and violation.
Individuals that pay to ride aboard uninspected passenger vessels are encouraged to ask for the vessel operator’s Coast Guard credential prior to embarking on a voyage, to verify that the operation meets minimum regulatory standards. Individuals aboard a vessel with more than six passengers are encouraged to ask to see the certificate of inspection.
If there are any questions as to the status of a passenger vessel operation or to report an illegal passenger vessel operation, please contact the Coast Guard Sector Los Angeles-Long Beach Command Center at (310) 521-3801.