Coast Guard marine inspectors from Sector Key West removed a small passenger vessel from commercial service, Wednesday in Marathon, Florida.
A Flag State Detention has been issued for the 36-foot small passenger vessel Barracuda after Coast Guard inspectors discovered multiple violations on board the vessel.
The Barracuda, certificated to carry 20 passengers, had recently taken passengers on excursions earlier in the week, with additional trips booked later that day. During the inspection, numerous deficiencies were found, such as significant amounts of oil and hydraulic fluid in the bilges, electrical wiring hazards, non-compliant fuel line installations, inoperable fuel shut-off valves, and through-hull valves, excessive water ingress at the shaft seal, the fixed firefighting system with indication it had been previously discharged, among others.
Prior to the completion of the inspection, enough deficiencies were identified to issue a Flag State Detention to the vessel, prohibiting the carriage of passengers. A Flag State Detention is an action rarely issued to U.S. Small Passenger Vessels. Upon additional review of the vessel’s operating history, the Officer in Charge of marine inspections decided to revoke the vessel’s Certificate of Inspection, removing the vessel entirely from the fleet of inspected passenger vessels operating in the Florida Keys.
A Captain of the Port Order was issued requiring the vessel to cease commercial operations until it fully complies with all applicable laws and regulations. Owners and operators who violate a Captain of the Port Order can face a penalty of up to $111,031 per violation.
“My marine inspectors attend to small passenger vessels at least annually, but I need to trust that USCG Credentialed Masters are keeping the public safe on the water at all times. Luckily we caught this before anyone got hurt,” said Capt. Jason Ingram, Commander of Sector Key West. “Ultimately, I want the public to have an enjoyable time on the water and the Florida Keys are generally full of professional mariners who understand that safety is their number one priority when it comes to operating a business underway. If a passenger pays for a trip on the water and has any cause for concern – I encourage them to contact Sector Key West at 305-292-8727 or via email at [email protected]. I will ensure my team follows up on every tip to hold the inspected passenger fleet to all safety standards.”