Investigations & Casualty Analysis

Marine Safety Alert: Prevent Passenger High-Risk Behaviors

The Office of Investigations and Analysis released Marine Safety Alert 09-19, “Prevent Passenger High-Risk Behavoirs,” following multiple injuries and fatalities in recent years resulting from high-risk behaviors by vessel passengers. Examples of such conduct include deliberately jumping from vessels into the water or climbing on or over a vessel’s protective railings resulting in accidental falls into the water.

These actions are not only dangerous for the passenger engaging in this risky endeavor, but it also puts the vessel, crew and other passengers at risk as the vessel maneuvers to try to retrieve the person or their remains, from the water. A passenger who intentionally jumps into the water from a commercial passenger vessel or who falls from the vessel as a result of high-risk behavior may be considered to be interfering with the safe operation of a vessel as defined by 46 U.S. Code 2302.

Graphic of swimmer diving with red circle and slash.

Potential offenders are cautioned that the Coast Guard takes this offense very seriously and such actions could result in a fine up to $34,000. The U.S. Coast Guard strongly recommends that passenger vessel owners, operators, and other responsible parties take the following measures:

  • Announce during the passenger orientation safety brief or with signage that standing or stepping onto benches and railing are prohibited.
  • Provide an adequate number of crewmembers and employees to detect and deter high-risk behavior that could result in a person going overboard.
  • Post signage warning passengers of the penalties that may be assessed for any passenger who enters the water in an unauthorized manner.

This safety alert is provided for informational purposes only and does not relieve any domestic or international safety, operational or material requirement. Developed and distributed by the Office of Investigations and Analysis. Questions may be sent to

A pdf of this marine safety alert is available online.

This blog is not a replacement or substitute for the formal posting of regulations and updates or existing processes for receiving formal feedback of the same. Links provided on this blog will direct the reader to official source documents, such as the Federal Register, Homeport and the Code of Federal Regulations. These documents remain the official source for regulatory information published by the Coast Guard.