Coast Guard: Island Belle still needs hull inspection

The Island Belle is buffeted by strong winds on Oct. 29, 2012 as Superstorm Sandy comes ashore.

NORWALK, Conn. – Operators of a Mississippi-style river boat have requested the use of the Veterans Park Visitor’s Dock Sunday, although the vessel has not yet had the dive survey of its hull required by the United States Coast Guard.

Coast Guard Sector Long Island Sound Investigations Division Chief Dawn Kallen was unaware, when a Wednesday phone call from NancyOnNorwalk began, that Ken Hart of Sound Charter Group is apparently planning to take the Island Belle out Sunday.

Kallen said Hart had the routine annual inspection of the boat done earlier this week, but he has not had the dive survey done, which was ordered in February after the Coast Guard received complaints about the boat being aground in its mooring at O&G Industries at low tide, she said.

“Bottom line, and he knows, he cannot carry passengers for hire until the Coast Guard receives the survey,” Kallen said, before being informed that the Island Belle has requested the use of the dock for commercial purposes on May 25.

That planned use is according to Recreation and Parks Department Director Mike Mocciae.

A dive survey of the hull is standard practice and required in the event of a grounding, Kallen said.

“We’ve told him, and specifically mentioned it to him today, that until the Coast Guard receives that report and approves it he can’t carry passengers for hire,” she said. “… He understands what the Coast Guard’s requirement is. He’s been told. He’s been notified. There will be consequences if he does actually take the vessel out with passengers on board.”

Harbor Management Commissioner John Romano said Tuesday that he had heard that Hart doesn’t necessarily have paying customers. He may be taking friends out, Romano said.

Hart has been asked by O&G operations manager Richard Warren to relocate the vessel.

Hart did not return an email asking when the Island Belle would be relocated. He said in a recent email that the Island Belle is legally docked at O&G.

Harbor Master Mike Griffin said Tuesday that the vessel continues to block barge traffic on the river — or, as he put it, transportation companies are refusing to “bring waterborne commerce.”

He did not know when the Island Belle would be relocated. He said he won’t know “until the day that it happens.”

The agreement to govern the operating relationship between a commercial vessel and the city regarding use of the Veterans Park dock had not been worked out as of Tuesday evening.


14 responses to “Coast Guard: Island Belle still needs hull inspection”

  1. Oldtimer

    Have the civil suits between the City and the company that operates the Island Belle been settled ?

    1. Mark Chapman


      We checked recently. No, they had not.

  2. Oldtimer

    He has Norwalk Ct painted on the boat as it’s home port. He must be pretty confident he will get to stay where he wants.

  3. Pamster

    One would think that City (rec&parks) would require that safety inspections have been completd, and copies therof be a requirement prior to allowing commercial use of the dock. perhaps they (rec&parks) dont even know what the coast guard and other agenvies require for commercial vessels.
    If this is an example of the process that is employed by the city, it is no wonder it has approved the use of the dock, notwithstanding the report that calls into question the suitability and integrity of the dock.
    This is not good government , in as much as the report has put the city on notice of dangers, risks and safety converns associated with allowing more than 40 passengers on the dock.
    Obviously, safety is not a cocern by the powers that be.

  4. Just curious

    It’s a coast guard requirement for inspected vessels. Probably has more red paint to change it as he aimlessly drifts around the sound.

  5. Peter Parker

    After the damage this vessel has caused it should be banned from the harbor period.

  6. NorwalkFisher

    When was the boat last hauled out for a hull inspection? This is required for saltwater boats.

    Since the boat goes aground 2 times per day doesnt that mean the hull has to be inspected the moment after it goes aground?

    Example- Dive inspection today goes ok but it’s still tied up at O&G and goes aground that same night. Doesn’t that qulaify as a reinspect?

  7. old salt

    This incredibly distasteful.

    The Norwalk Harbor Management Commission appointed by the Common Council as experts representing issues on Norwalk Harbor has lost control of the waterfront and this situation. Director Moccaie has circumvented policy, procedure,and now safety and no one can stop him. Why is the Harbormaster allowing this unsafe situation to develop?

    Didn’t we gain any additional wisdom from the last time this Boat and the very same dock broke loose and careened across the Harbor?

    Albert Einstein defined insanity as: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.

    Possibly the Rec and Parks Committee, Director Moccaie and the Harbormaster are smarter than poor Mr. Einstein.

    It appears they are intellectually superior to this
    “old salt”.

  8. Oldtimer

    It sounds as if decisions have been made without consulting the people who know about the harbor and even a little about marine engineering. Mr D’Andrea is, in fact, an engineer himself and a licensed captain. He tends to be pretty cautious about public statement without proper research. When he says a situation regarding boats and docking is not safe, I would listen. I wonder if the timing has not been calculated to do an end run around the harbor commission and the legal dept. By allowing this vessel back on the visitor’s dock, what precedent is Mr Mocciae setting for a still pending lawsuit ? Can’t Hart’s attorney use this fact to show the City has, in fact, no problem with his use of the visitor’s dock ?

  9. Oyster

    When the Recs and Parks Committee of the Common Council approved this permitting situation, did they understand that there was a possibility that this man would fail to meet the basic requirements? This needs to stop before someone gets hurt.

  10. NorwalkFisher

    Everyone should stop crying on forums and call, write, and protest in safety for our community….And STOP THE ABUSE

  11. NorwalkFisher

    This guy has done enough damage….it’s time for the community to have a vote. Safety comes first! A boat that goes aground 2X a day tells you something about the person who owns the boat…..careless….

  12. John C. Romano

    Sorry Nancy, with all due respect the follow remarks were not made by me. Nor did I hear it being said (might have missed it if it was said)

    Harbor Management Commissioner John Romano said Tuesday that he had heard that Hart doesn’t necessarily have paying customers. He may be taking friends out, Romano said.

  13. Oldtimer

    Did the Island Belle go out over the weekend with paying passengers ? Has the required inspection been done ? Was the legal department given a chance to express an opinion, before any use of City property to support Mr Hart’s business ?

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