Coast Guard Sector Northern New England has issued a notice of violation for a $2500 civil penalty to an individual who jumped off a ferry while it was underway near Portland, Maine last month.
On July 2, at about 2100 hours, the vessel Bay Mist was returning to the State Pier in Portland, Maine, with approximately 90 passengers aboard. As the captain was approaching to the dock and the crewmembers were preparing the passengers for disembarkation, someone yelled that there was a man overboard.
The captain and crew attempted to rescue the person in the water. After hitting water, however, the jumper swam to the other side of the channel where he was caught by the police.
The Coast Guard reminded the public that jumping off of a moving vessel is dangerous. Jumpers could get sucked into the vessel’s propellers or drown from the effects of cold water shock, swimming failure and hypothermia. Jumping can also place the vessel, its crew, and the other passengers in danger, as it can distract the crew from the task of safely navigating the ship.
“Intentionally jumping off a passenger vessel is an extremely dangerous act. It interferes with safe operation of the vessel and I have directed my staff to investigate each of these incidents and issue violations as appropriate,” said Coast Guard Captain of the Port Michael Baroody.
In 1998, Congress amended federal law to allow the Coast Guard to pursue a civil penalty against any individual who interferes with the safe operation of a vessel. The maximum monetary penalty for such a violation is $33,333.