Success Story: Boat Registration Transaction

October 1, 2021

The following story describes how the US Coast Guard (USCG) used a Boat Registration Query to discover that the operator of a vessel was not who he said he was:


The USCG Station Portsmouth boat crew and boarding team came across a vessel adrift in the Elizabeth River, Norfolk, VA. The boarding team found two persons on-board; the vessel was estimated as a 65-foot Hatteras style fishing boat. The operator, who also indicated he was the vessel’s owner, stated he had engine problems and needed a tow to a marina in Hampton, VA. However, USCG policy is to assist a vessel to the closest and safest safe harbor, which was Waterside Marina in downtown Norfolk, VA.  Upon being told of the change the operator became agitated and insistent that he be taken to the marina in Hampton.  Due to the vessel operator’s ongoing agitation and insistence, the boarding officer requested that the Norfolk Police meet them at Waterside Marina. 


Upon arrival at Waterside Marina, the boarding officer started a post-SAR boarding. During the boarding, the boarding officer noted that the documented numbers permanently affixed to the vessel were altered and the operator could not produce the Certificate of Documentation. The boarding officer asked dispatch to run a Boat Registration Query through Nlets, requesting registration and/or documentation identification and verification from the Coast Guard.  The Nlets Boat Registration Response verified that the numbers affixed to the vessel were invalid, that no Certificate of Documentation exists and that the name of the owner does not match the identification presented by the operator. Norfolk Police subsequently indicated to the boarding officer that the identified operator of the vessel had an outstanding arrest warrant in place. The vessel was impounded, and the operator taken into custody by the Norfolk Police.


This scenario was provided by Chuck Fehrman / CJIS Systems Officer, US Coast Guard


Do your or your agency have a success story to share with us about how Nlets helped you solve a case or track down a suspect? We’d love to hear it. Just send us an email at or give us a call at 623-308-3513.