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Frequently Asked Questions

Why are you doing this?

In support of the post-Hurricane Maria recovery of Puerto Rico, we are taking steps to remove vessels that may potentially contain pollutants or hazardous materials such as marine fuel or batteries. The orange sticker you find on your vessel will provide you with a phone number to the Vessel Owner Outreach Hotline at (786) 521-3900. Please call the number and leave your contact information; a member of our staff will get back to you as soon as possible to discuss your removal options. There is no penalty or charge to you during this process; every effort has been made to ensure that property owners’ rights are being fully considered.

Under a normal scenario, removing these vessels would require coordination with DNER, and the owner would be responsible for implementing a mitigation plan to restore the damages inflicted to the environment.  Understanding the situation the Island is going through we are conducting this mission for the benefit of the people and the environment, completely free of cost.

What gives you the authority or right to boom around my vessel or remove the vessel from the water?

There are various laws that provide DNER the authority to take action against all that have an impact in our environment.  Law 147, Law for the Protection, Conservation and Management of Coral Reefs in Puerto Rico is one of them.  Puerto Rico Law 430, Navigation and Aquatic Safety Law Regulation 6979, established the criterias for a vessel to be legally in territorial waters.  Regulation 4860, Regulation for the Use, Surveillance, Conservation and Administration of Territorial Waters, Submerged Terrains and the Maritime Zone establishes the requirements for having a permanent structure in territorial waters.

Federally 40 U.S. Code of Federal Regulations 300, National Oil and Hazardous Substances Pollution Contingency Plan provides the US Coast Guard the authority to address any contamination threat due to hazardous substances or pollutants.

Why am I being asked to do this?

Some of the vessels impacted by Maria may pose a risk of pollution, a threat to the environment or may prohibit normal marina operations. Under normal circumstances the owner of the vessel would be responsible for removing the vessel, implement a mitigation plan and would be subject to fines.  Due to the pass of Hurricane Maria, understanding the situation that the country is facing, and to support the people, we are providing the service of removing the vessel and returning it back to the owner or removing it and discarding it, completely free of cost, with no fines or legal consequences.  By calling the Vessel Owner Outreach Hotline at (786) 521-3900, we can assist you with a removal decision. The purpose of the program is to provide vessel owners with options or guidance to remove their vessel out of the water or have it dispose of for them. There is no penalty or charge to vessel owners during this process.

What if I don’t have the money to pay for a salvor? Will I be fined?

We are offering the vessel removal service free of cost.  There are no fines associated to it if the action is done in coordination with the agencies.  There is no charge to you, the vessel owner, for working with this process. If you own a vessel in one of the impacted areas and you’ve found an orange sticker on your vessel, please call (786) 521-3900 to discuss the process and how we could help you. If you are in an area experiencing connectivity issues due to Hurricane Maria and have difficulty with phone reception, we are also sending out certified letters to vessel owners’ homes containing all the information they will need.  If you facilitate the vessel removal there is no associated fines.  If on the contrary, you decide to remove the vessel on your own, be mindful that it must be done in coordination with DNER to discuss the removal plan and prevent causing additional damage to the environment.  Performing the action without coordinating with the agencies, could expose you to fines and could be held responsible for damages cause to the environment.

I’m going to remove my own vessel. Where do I submit my plan?

If you decide to remove your own vessel, you must submit a removal plan in order for the agencies to be able to evaluate that the proposed actions will minimize the possible environmental impacts.  When you submit the removal plan, before implementing it, you avoid being liable for environmental impacts.  If your vessel is in one of the impacted areas and you’ve found an orange sticker on your vessel, and want to discuss and submit the removal plan please call (786) 521-3900.

If you’re going to take my boat away, can I go aboard and get my property first?

We will make every effort to allow people to remove personal items from their vessels as long as it is safe to do so.

Are you selling property from boats that you recover but no one claims?

No.

How do I prove I own/no longer own my boat? What documents do you require?

Proof of ownership can be established in several ways, to include: A notarized Bill of Sale as well as the vessel identification number with registration documentation as well as any additional paperwork you have to support your claim. We will be using the DNER database to identify the registered owner of the boat. You must present a valid form of ID which matches the registration in the DNER database.

What if I just want to pay for someone to take my vessel away?

You will have the option of turning over your vessel for disposal in the event it cannot be salvaged. Proof of ownership is required.  This could include current registration documentation, or a Bill of Sale and any additional paperwork you may have along with a valid form of ID. (Driver’s license, passport, etc.) You will be asked to sign a release of property form. There is no charge for this.

If I sign over ownership of my vessel, will I be billed for the cost of removal?

No. There is no charge or penalty to you the vessel owner for this service.

If my vessel was used as my home, how do I retrieve my property if I sign it over?

We will make every effort to allow people to remove personal items from their vessels as long as it is safe to do so.

I do not live in Puerto Rico. Can the Coast Guard go aboard my vessel and retrieve my documents for me?

No. You must provide the vessel documentation to the ESF-10 Maria PR Incident Command. Please call (786) 521-3900 for more information.

What does the sticker on my vessel mean?

The sticker is a notification to vessel owners that their boat may be a potential pollution or environmental threat and needs to be moved. Please call (786) 521-3900 to speak to a member of the Vessel Owner Outreach Group for more information. We offer you the service of removing the vessel or dispose of it free of charge.  There is no penalty or charge to you the vessel owner during the removal process.

I want to keep my vessel but I am currently not in Puerto Rico. What do I need to do?

Please call (786) 521-3900 to speak to a member of the Vessel Owner Outreach Group to better assess your situation and help you. There is no penalty or charge to you the vessel owner during the removal process. Every effort has been made to ensure that property owner’s rights are being fully considered. There are some documents that you must provide, we will orient you once you call.

How long do I have to remove my vessel?

We are actively working with vessel owners to help facilitate removal processes that are the safest and most efficient options, without a time frame, but we would like to do it as soon as possible. Please call (786) 521-3900 to let us help you find the best solution to your vessel issue.

My insurance company has declared my vessel a complete loss. Am I still responsible for removal or can I sign over my vessel for removal?

You can sign your vessel over for removal and disposal at no cost.

I plan on hiring or have hired a company to remove my vessel. What do I need to do now?

Please keep us informed on your progress. We will provide you with best management practices to make sure you and your hired company do not cause additional environmental impacts.

Is this how the process normally works?

No. This process is determined through the FEMA Mission Assignment for Emergency Support Function 10 (Oil and Hazardous Material) and has been developed by the Unified Command consisting of DNER and the USCG.

How should I contact the Coast Guard to take my boat away?

Please call (786) 521-3900 to speak to a member of the Vessel Owner Outreach Group to better assess your situation.

Can I remove the engine from my boat?

As a property owner, you have the right to remove your engine if it can be done safely and without causing a pollution incident in the process.

Am I being charged for the boom around my vessel?

No. This is part of the pollution recovery effort in support of the Commonwealth under Emergency Support Function 10 (Oil and Hazardous Material).

Can I sell my boat to someone else and have him or her take it away?

As a property owner, you have the right to sell your vessel as long as the proper documentation is complete. Please keep us informed of new ownership of the vessel. The new owner should advise the Vessel Owner Outreach Group at (786) 521-3900 of their intentions for removal, and keep us informed of their progress.

If I take my batteries, will you still remove the fuel?

As part of the ESF-10 process, we will remove the fuel and batteries from each vessel prior to handing it over to a vessel owner or disposing of it as vessel debris.

If I try to removal my boat but fail, will you help me?

Vessel owners are encouraged to communicate their salvage plans to the Vessel Owner Outreach Group at (786) 521-3900. Please keep us updated on your progress. In most cases, if you fail in your efforts we will be able to assist in removing your vessel.

Last Updated: 
11/30/2017 - 17:15