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Coast Guard boards Tiger's honeymoon yacht

From Mike M. Ahlers
CNN

(CNN) -- A secluded honeymoon cruise in the Caribbean for newlyweds Tiger Woods and Elin Nordegren got unexpectedly crowded when armed officers of the Coast Guard boarded the couple's new mega-yacht Privacy.

Coast Guard officials say the yacht, reportedly a wedding gift from the champion golfer, ran afoul of a law intended to ensure U.S. homeland security.

U.S. Coast Guard officials told CNN the yacht docked in San Juan Harbor Thursday without notifying authorities it was entering San Juan, Puerto Rico, violating U.S. maritime security laws.

Vessels of 300 tons or greater must file advance notice of arrival. The Privacy is 498 tons.

Around noon, a Coast Guard harbor patrol boat spotted the Privacy and noted it was not expected to be in port, said USCG Lt. Tony Russell. "They conducted an armed security boarding, the standard practice in these situations. It was fueling at the time."

Russell said the Coast Guard notified officials with Customs and Border Protection and the ship departed at 3 p.m. under escort.

Mark Steinberg, Woods' manager, did not immediately respond to a reporter's phone call seeking comment.

The Coast Guard said the advance notice provision and routine patrols do not prevent the occasional ship from slipping by.

"That's certainly an issue we're working on," Russell said. "You've got to understand there are 361 ports and 95,000 miles of coastline and while we'd certainly like to know everything that's approaching the United States, we're not quite there yet."

Thorough boardings and checks were done, he said.

"There are no indicators that anything was done wrong other than failing to comply with the notification requiring," he said.

U.S. law required ships to give 96 hours' notice before arriving in U.S. ports, except in cases where ships are arriving from nearby ports, in which case 24 hours' notice is required.

"The captain and the crew were very cooperative with us all along," Russell said. "They weren't aware that they needed to file an advanced notice of arrival."


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