Operator faces penalties after illegal charter hits Miami bridge

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

(MIAMI) — The Coast Guard terminated the voyage of the 65-foot pleasure yacht Zenith at Sea Isle Marina after discovering several safety issues and environmental concerns including carrying more paying passengers than they were certified to carry on board the vessel Saturday.

A Coast Guard Station Miami 33-foot special purpose craft-law enforcement boat crew conducted the boarding of Zenith at Sea Isle Marina where they discovered the following violations:

• Violation of 46 C.F.R. 176.100A for not having a valid certificate of inspection.
• Violation of 46 C.F.R. 15.515B for not having a credentialed mariner in control while operating a small passenger vessel. 
• Violation of 46 C.F.R. 16.201 for failure to have a drug and alcohol program.
• Violation of 46 C.F.R. 170.120 for failure to have a valid stability letter. 

The owner and operator of Zenith faces maximum civil penalties amounting to $41,546 for this illegal passenger for hire operation.

The boarding was conducted after the yacht allided with the Venetian Causeway Bridge earlier that day and the Coast Guard received a call from a concerned passenger.

“We urge people to request to see the vessel operator’s valid credentials or proof of required inspection or examination before hiring a charter vessel,” said Petty Officer 1st Class Emily White, a Coast Guard 7th District watch stander. "Passengers are risking their safety by hiring a charter vessel without a credentialed mariner in charge or aboard an uninspected vessel which is subject to federal regulations."

There was no reported damage sustained to the bridge or any reported injuries to those on board Zenith following its allision with the Venetian Causeway Bridge.

By Professional Mariner Staff