(1) Where a vessel is deemed to be a hazard or to interfere with navigation to the extent that public safety is jeopardized, the Division may order its immediate removal pursuant to Section 327.70, Florida Statutes.
(2) The Division shall provide direction to sworn members regarding the reporting, identifying, and marking, of derelict vessels to facilitate their removal from state waters.
(3) A “derelict vessel” is defined in Section 823.11, Florida Statutes, as “any vessel, as defined in Section 327.02, Florida Statutes, that is left, stored, or abandoned: (a) in a wrecked, junked or substantially dismantled condition...”
(4) An “abandoned vessel” is a vessel which fits the definition of abandoned property as found in Section 705.101, Florida Statutes, which means “all tangible personal property that does not have an identifiable owner and that has been disposed on public property in a wrecked, inoperative, to partially dismantled condition or has no apparent intrinsic value to the rightful owner. The term includes derelict vessels as defined in s. 823.11(1), F.S.”
(5) An “at-risk vessel” is defined as “a vessel exhibiting conditions known to precede a derelict condition and which cause an officer to have just concern for its welfare.” Indicators that a vessel may be considered at risk include, but are not limited to, the following:
(a) Improper, non-working, or no anchor light, which is a hazard to navigation (Section 327.33 and 327.44 F.S.), when combined with an owner/operator who is not tending to the vessel.
(b) Vessel is neglected, improperly maintained, or is not able to be used for navigation as intended
(c) Vessel does not comply with current registration requirements (S. 328.46 F.S.) when combined with an owner/operator who is not tending to the vessel.
(d) Vessel is barnacle-laden (e) Vessel interior is exposed to the elements (rain, waves, etc.) (f) Vessel is listing (g) Vessel is aground (h) Vessel is in danger of breaking its mooring (i) Vessel is sinking
B The Commission shall provide assistance when requested by local governments and other agencies by providing investigative resources for the removal of a derelict vessel, as described in Section 823.11, Florida Statutes, from public waters of the state when that vessel is a hazard to navigation or a threat to the environment.
C The Statewide At-Risk and Derelict Vessel Database is maintained by the Division’s Boating and Waterways Section and is used to document and track at-risk and derelict vessels reported by FWC members and other law enforcement agencies. This database also serves as a case management system for derelict vessel investigations.
A Area Captain
(1) Directs derelict vessel investigations within his/her area.
(2) Ensures certified letters were sent to last known owner of derelict vessel.
(3) Reviews for accuracy and approve electronically submitted derelict vessel reports.
(4) Makes final determination of a vessel’s status for removal and, if approved, electronically sign- off in status report page.
B Direct Supervisor (1) Reviews and ensures completeness and accuracy of officer’s derelict vessel and at-risk
vessel reports (all reports will be completed electronically).
(2) Electronically signs completed derelict vessel reports and forward email to Area Captain for all derelict vessels ready for removal.
(3) Ensures notice is issued to owner of any at-risk vessel. C Regional Communications Center
(1) Assigns an incident summary number to reports of derelict and/or at-risk vessels, using 29D for derelict vessels and 29A for at-risk vessels. Incidents will be assigned to the appropriate member for follow-up action.
D Investigating member
(1) Responds to and investigates reports of derelict and at-risk vessels.
(2) Generates an incident summary number for identified derelict or at-risk vessels.
(3) Properly documents and marks confirmed derelict or at-risk vessels.
(4) Electronically completes the At-Risk or Derelict or Abandoned Vessel Report (FWC/DLE-048) in the Statewide At-Risk and Derelict Vessel Database.
(5) Reports all fuel discharges to National Response Center at (800) 424-8802 or report online at www.nrc.uscg.mil. Documents the confirmation number provided by the National Response Center in the Statewide Derelict Vessel Database and notifies the appropriate Regional Communications Center.
(6) Verifies the removal of derelict vessels and reports removal costs in database.
(7) Ensures close-out notification is sent to direct supervisor through the database. E Boating and Waterways Section
(1) Maintains the Statewide At-Risk and Derelict Vessel Database.
(2) Provides funding, as appropriated by the legislature, for derelict vessel removal.
(3) Implements a plan for the procurement of any available federal disaster funds for the removal of derelict vessels.
(4) Notifies Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles to cancel title after vessel is removed and destroyed.
(5) Notifies legal staff when state funds have been expended to remove derelict vessels and the owner(s) has not reimbursed the state.
(6) Notifies Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles when state funds have been expended to remove a derelict vessel and the owner has not reimbursed the state.
(7) Reviews all closed out derelict vessel and at-risk vessel reports.
(8) Provides training on derelict vessel investigation and the database.
(9) Provides FWC Training Section with all training course rosters.
(10) Tracks expenditures associated with removals of derelict vessels.
A Documenting Derelict Vessels
(1) An incident summary number shall be assigned to each report of a potential derelict vessel reported to the Division. Once the vessel has been located, the sworn member responding to the scene must determine if the vessel is a recovered stolen boat; lost or abandoned property as defined in Chapter 705, Florida Statutes; or a derelict vessel pursuant to Section 823.11, Florida Statutes.
(2) If the vessel meets the definition of lost or abandoned property or the definition of a derelict vessel, the sworn member shall affix a Notice Sticker (FWC/DLE-073) pursuant to section 705.103(2), Florida Statutes, unless the condition of the vessel makes it impossible to affix the sticker. Photographs of the vessel displaying the completed sticker shall be taken.
(3) The sworn member shall run registration, hull identification, and engine serial numbers in an attempt to find a last known registered owner, as well as a title history to determine any lien holders.
(4) A notice letter via certified mail to the last known registered owner/lien holder shall be mailed on or before the same day as posting the vessel pursuant to section 705.103 (2) Florida Statutes. A copy of the notice letter and a scanned copy of the mailed and returned receipt shall be electronically entered into the derelict vessel database as a .jpeg image file under the document tab.
(5) If a vessel is deemed to be a hazard to navigation or threatens to be an environmental hazard, the U.S. Coast Guard / National Response Center at (800) 424-8802 or online at www.nrc.uscg.mil shall be notified.
(6) The sworn member responding to the scene shall make a reasonable attempt to determine the rightful owner of the reported derelict vessel. All efforts should be made to have the owner remove the vessel. The facts should be reviewed and, if warranted under the circumstances, criminal charges shall be filed. Possible options for identifying and/or locating the rightful owner include, but are not limited to:
(a) FCIC/NCIC checks for further addresses (b) Google searches (c) 411.com (d) Local checks through SO or PD
(e) Physically check addresses (f) Speak with local boaters (g) Call any known phone numbers (h) Check with USCG on documented vessels (i) CLEAR inquiry through Investigations Section
(7) The sworn member will make a determination whether or not the vessel meets the statutory definition of a derelict vessel (Section 823.11, Florida Statutes). If the vessel clearly meets the definition of derelict vessel, the sworn member will electronically complete the At-Risk or Derelict or Abandoned Vessel Report in the database. All of the efforts to determine and locate the last known owner will be included in the report and entered in the narrative section of the derelict vessel database.
(8) If the vessel clearly meets the definition of a derelict vessel in Section 823.11, Florida Statutes, and all efforts have been expended to have the vessel removed from public waters by its owner, the vessel shall be marked as derelict with the letters “DV,” the two-digit year, and the incident summary number, example:(DV-06-SW-53-0001). The marking of the vessel will be done in such a way that it can be easily identified by other boaters or a removal contractor.
(9) The sworn member shall thoroughly document each derelict vessel with a series of evidentiary photographs. These photographs shall include:
(a) A close-up of the Derelict Vessel Sticker (so text is legible), (b) A photo clearly showing the DV marking on the vessel, (c) General photos of the boat and surroundings to show its location, and
(d) Exterior and interior photos which demonstrate that the boat is junked, wrecked or substantially dismantled. If accessible, photos of identifying markings, such as registration number, hull identification number (HIN), hailing port, etc.
(e) All photographs shall be electronically entered into the derelict vessel database as .jpeg image files under the document tab.
(10) The sworn member shall thoroughly document all actions taken during the investigation of a derelict vessel and update the investigation files in the database.
(11) Upon completion of the derelict vessel report, the sworn member shall electronically sign their name under DV report status page tab and forward an email to his or her direct supervisor using the database email box located under the DV status tab.
B Removing Derelict Vessels
(1) Captains shall ensure that a certified letter with return receipt requested is mailed to the owner of record and to the last known owner if different from the owner of record of a lost, abandoned, or derelict vessel. If applicable, the letter shall provide notice to the owner that the vessel has been deemed derelict and that the owner is in violation of Sections 376.15 and 823.11, Florida Statutes. The letter will direct the owner to remove the vessel from public waters of the state within 5 days of receipt of the letter or show reasonable cause for the failure to do so, or provide proof of the legal transfer of the vessel’s ownership. If the owner removes the vessel, the matter shall be closed and an Incident Summary Report Narrative (FWC/DLE-045A) shall be completed in the database.
(2) All efforts should be made to have the owner remove the vessel. The owner shall be held accountable for all removal costs incurred by a municipal, county or state agency.
(3) If funding has been appropriated, the Boating and Waterways Section will notify county governments of the derelict vessels within their jurisdiction along with the instructions for applying for a grant to remove derelict vessels.
(4) When grants have been awarded for the removal of derelict vessels, the Boating and Waterways Section will provide the applicable regional field office with notification of the contract and the derelict vessels specified for removal. The area supervisor will have a sworn member visually verify that the listed derelict vessel(s) still needs to be removed and will document this information on an Incident Summary Report Narrative (FWC/DLE-045A) in the database. This visual check should be performed no more than 30 days prior to the start of the removal process and a copy of this report shall be forwarded to the Boating and Waterways Section.
(5) A sworn member shall survey the location of designated derelict vessels on a quarterly basis and enter a FWC/DLE-045A narrative under the narrative tab in the database updating the vessel’s current condition and location and close out all vessels determined no longer derelict on state waters.
(6) Members are encouraged to develop working relationships with local officials to facilitate the removal of derelict vessels.
C After Removing Derelict Vessels
(1) Once the derelict vessel is removed, the appropriate area supervisor will have a sworn member visually verify that the listed derelict vessel has been removed. If the sworn member can reasonably determine that a portion of the vessel is still in place below the surface, this information should be indicated on the Incident Summary Report Narrative (FWC/DLE-045A) in the database. A sworn member will enter a FWC/DLE-045A narrative under the narrative tab in the database indicating the removal of the derelict vessel from state waters.
(2) If the vessel is removed by the state, the matter may be referred to the Department of Legal Affairs pursuant to Section 376.15(2)(a), Florida Statutes and 823.11(3)(a), Florida Statutes for reimbursement of costs incurred by the state. The sworn member shall make the local State Attorney’s Office aware of unpaid removal fees to be paid to the state and request that reimbursement be required of the defendant in the criminal case as authorized in 823.11(4), Florida Statutes.
(3) If the vessel is removed by the state, and the vessel owner does not reimburse the state for costs incurred during the removal, the Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles will be notified pursuant to section 705.103(4), Florida Statutes.
(4) For all derelict vessel investigation reports closed out in the database, the sworn member will forward an email to their direct supervisor by checking the send email box under the DV report status page tab.
D Documenting At-Risk Vessels
(1) If a vessel is determined to be at-risk, the sworn member shall fill out a Notice Tag (FWC/DLE- 052) and affix the tag to a highly visible section of the vessel where one would reasonably see the attached notice. The sworn member shall thoroughly document each at-risk vessel with a series of photographs. These photographs shall include a close-up of the at-risk notice tag (so text is legible), a photo clearly showing the at-risk marking on the vessel, and general photos of the vessel and surroundings to show its location. All photographs shall be electronically entered into the derelict vessel database as .jpeg image files under the document tab.
(2) For all at-risk vessels, a form letter (available in derelict vessel database) shall be mailed within 72 hours of posting the vessel and shall be sent to the last known registered owner/ lien holder.
(3) The sworn member shall ensure that all vessels determined to be at-risk are entered into the derelict vessel database under the section for at-risk vessels.
(4) A sworn member shall survey the location of designated at-risk vessels on a quarterly basis and electronically enter a FWC/DLE-045A narrative under the narrative tab in the database updating the vessel’s current condition and make inactive all vessels determined no longer at- risk on state waters. For at-risk vessels which become derelict, the member shall convert the case in the database.
E Procedure for Handling Claims for Found Property (Vessel)
(1) If a citizen requests the Division’s assistance in the process of claiming a vessel that was stored, left, or abandoned on public waters as found property, the following procedures shall be applied:
(a) The citizen shall be directed to the Sheriff’s Office of the county in which the vessel is located to report the found property and to make a claim for ownership in accordance with S. 705.102, F.S.
(b) If the Sheriff’s Office is unable to assist the citizen, a Division member may assist the citizen if approved by the Area Captain.
(c) The citizen shall be advised that the Division requires a deposit of $300.00 to be used for transportation, storage, and advertising of the public notice. The balance of any unspent deposit shall be returned to the claimant with completed documentation at the conclusion of the process. If actual agency costs exceed the deposit amount, the claimant shall be advised of the difference as soon as possible, and shall remit the remaining amount to ensure completion of the claims process. If the claimant abandons the claims process prior to its completion, the Division shall refund the remaining deposit amount minus any actual allowable costs incurred.
(d) The Division will take custody of a vessel so claimed for a period of 90 days through physical or constructive seizure.
(2) After receipt of the $300.00 deposit, the assigned member will begin the investigative process by following the procedures outlined in S. 705.103, F.S. The member shall:
(a) Make reasonable effort to ascertain the name and address of the vessel owner(s). (b) If owner is found; mail a copy of such notice to the owner on or before date of posting the
notice on the vessel.
(c) Contact DHSMV and ascertain if the vessel has any lien holders. If so, then mail notice to the lien holders as well, on or before date of posting the notice on the vessel.
(d) Post a notice on the vessel in accordance with S. 705.103(2), F.S.
(e) Within the first 45 days of the 90-day holding period, the member shall advertise such claim of found property, (if valued at more than $100.00) published once per week for two consecutive weeks in a paper of general circulation in the county where the property was found, in accordance with S. 705.104(2)(b), F.S.
(f) In accordance with S. 705.104(1), F.S., title to lost or abandoned property is vested in the finder, upon the expiration of the 90-day custodial time period specified in S. 705.103(2)(b), F.S., provided the notice requirements of S. 705.103, F.S. have been met, unless the rightful owner or lien holder claims the property within that time.
(g) Upon completion of the custodial period with no other claim, the member will provide the claimant with a completed Lost or Abandoned Property Certificate (FWC/DLE-003) advising that the requirements of S. 705.103, F.S. have been met, and, that the claimant holds vested title in the vessel per S. 705.104(b), F.S. The member shall also provide copies of the advertisement, posted notice, and redacted copy of mailed notice to the claimant.
1. The member is not authorized to give the claimant previous ownership information. Should the Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles (DHSMV) need complete investigative information, they may verify such information with the investigating Division member.
(h) The claimant is then directed to apply with DHSMV to have the title of the vessel transferred into their name. The claimant will carry documentation provided by the investigating member to the DHSMV for submission with the application for the transfer of title. The claimant will then follow DHSMV instructions to complete the transfer of title.
Form Number Form Title
FWC/DLE-003 Lost and Abandoned Property Certificate
FWC/DLE-045A Incident Summary Report Narrative (within derelict vessel database)
FWC/DLE-048 Derelict and Abandoned Vessel Report (within derelict vessel database)
FWC/DLE-073 Notice Sticker
FWC/DLE-052 At-Risk Vessel Notice Tag