What are the Coast Guard requirements?

U.S. Flagged Vessels can:

1) Operate as a Recreational vessel (no consideration), no limit on passengers;

2) Operate as a Charter Vessel no crew provided, limited to 12 passengers, written contract required

3) Operate as an Uninspected Passenger Vessel, less than 100 GRT can carry up to 6 passengers; greater than 100 GRT can carry up to 12 passengers

Charter Operation: a valid charter is an agreement where the charterer has use of the vessel for a period of time and is considered the owner. Charterer may take on legal obligations, to the owner, the crew, the passengers carried, and others

Elements of a valid charter may include: 1) The charterer must have the option of selecting crew, although the owner may require general levels of proficiency for whatever crew is retained based on federal statutes; 2) The master/crew are paid by the charterer; 3) All food, fuel and stores are provided by the charterer; 4) Insurance is obtained by the charterer, at least to the extent of covering as carrying “passengers for hire” liability not included in the owner’s insurance; 5) The charterer is responsible for the safe navigation of the vessel; 6) Used as a platform for events, even while moored at the pier, and; 7) The vessel is surveyed upon its delivery and return.

Small Passenger Vessel: means a vessel of less than 100 gross tons as measured under Section 14502 of 46 USC, or an alternate tonnage measured under section 14302 of this title as prescribed by the Secretary under section 14104 of this title—(A) carrying more than six passengers, including at least one passenger for hire; (B) that is chartered with crew provided or specified by the owner or the owner’s representative and carrying more than six passengers; (C) that is chartered with no crew provided or specified by the owner's representative and carrying more than 12 passengers; (D) that is a submersible or wing-inground craft, regardless of tonnage, carrying at least one passenger for hire; or (E) that is a ferry carrying more than six passengers.

Uninspected Passenger Vessel: means an uninspected vessel—(A) of at least 100 gross tons as measured under section 14502 of 46 USC, or an alternate tonnage measured under section 14302 of this title as prescribed by the Secretary under section 14104 of this title—(i) carrying not more than 12 passengers, including at least one passenger for hire; or (ii) that is chartered with crew provided or specified by the owner or the owner’s representative and carrying not more than 12 passengers; or (B) of less than 100 gross tons as measured under section 14502 of this title, or an alternate tonnage measured under section 14302 of this title as prescribed by the Secretary under section 14104 of this title—(i) carrying not more than six passengers, including at least one passenger for hire; or (ii) that is chartered with crew provided or specified by the owner or the owner’s representative and carrying not more than six passengers.

Passenger: means an individual carried on a vessel, except: (1) The owner or an individual representative of the owner, or in the case of a vessel under charter, an individual charterer or individual representative of the charterer. (2) The Master; or (3) A member of the crew engaged in the business of the vessel who has not contributed consideration for carriage and who is paid for on board services.

Passenger for Hire: means a passenger for whom consideration is contributed as a condition of carriage on the vessel, whether directly or indirectly flowing to the owner, charterer, operator, agent, or any other person having an interest in the vessel.

Consideration: means an economic benefit, inducement, right, or profit, including pecuniary payment accruing to an individual, person, or entity but not including a voluntary sharing of the actual expenses of the voyage by monetary contribution or donation of food, fuel, beverage, or other supplies.

Recreational Vessel: means a vessel - (A) being manufactured or operated primarily for pleasure; or (B) leased, rented, or chartered to another for the latter’s pleasure.

 

These general guidelines are not intended to be comprehensive or operate as legal advice.  To determine whether your captain's license is sufficient to operate in particular circumstances, see 46 CFR Part 11, Subpart D, NVIC N7-94, the Passenger Vessel Safety Act of 1993, the resources found at www.uscg.mil/nmc, or consult a maritime attorney.