Coast Guard suspends riverboat operator's license

The following is the text of a news release from the U.S. Coast Guard:

(PORTLAND, Ore.) — Coast Guard Sector Columbia River personnel suspended the merchant mariner’s license of Richard Chesbrough of Salem on March 4, for violating Coast Guard regulations governing small commercial passenger vessel operations and for negligence after the commandant of the Coast Guard affirmed the orders of an administrative law judge.

Chesbrough received a four-month suspension and an 18-month probationary period as a result of charges from two separate complaints for misconduct and negligence.

In April 2011, Chesbrough knowingly operated the passenger vessel Willamette Queen in river conditions exceeding those authorized in the vessel’s certificate of inspection to carry passengers. In the second complaint, he negligently grounded the Willamette Queen in the Willamette River in May 2012, which led to the evacuation of the passengers.

The complaints were brought to hearing before an administrative law judge in Portland in September 2011 and February 2013. In both hearings the administrative law judge ordered the license suspended. Chesbrough appealed both decisions to the commandant of the Coast Guard; however a commandant’s decisions on appeal Jan. 23 affirmed both orders issued by the administrative law judge.

“Licensing professional merchant mariners is a critical component of the regulatory framework that promotes the safety of the public on our nation’s waterways,” said Lt. Benjamin Robinson, chief of investigations division at Coast Guard Marine Safety Unit Portland.

Coast Guard regulations require small commercial passenger vessels for hire, less than 100 gross tons and carrying more than six paying passengers, operating on U.S. navigable waterways be inspected by the Coast Guard. Licensed mariners are reminded to follow the operating conditions listed in the vessel’s certificate of inspection to ensure the safety of all passengers aboard.  

While his license is suspended, Chesbrough may not operate a vessel with any number of paying passengers aboard.

By Professional Mariner Staff