Federal charges have been brought against a Florida man who attempted to cross the Atlantic Ocean in a man-made hamster wheel after it took the U.S.
It took the Coast Guard five days to bring him ashore, according to a Miami-based criminal complaint. Reza Baluchi, 51, was discovered by the Coast Guard on August 26 while making preparations for Hurricane Franklin about 70 miles (112 kilometers) off the coast of Tybee Island, Georgia.
On Tuesday, Baluchi was accused of violating a captain’s port order and obstructing boarding.
The Coast Guard crew was informed by Baluchi that he was trying to travel by “hydro-pod” to England and that he was carrying a Florida registration that he was unable to locate for them.
According to the complaint, the officers found that Baluchi was making “a manifestly unsafe voyage” and that the ship was “afloat due to wiring and buoys.” Baluchi told them he had a knife and threatened to hurt himself when they asked him to leave the boat, according to the complaint by Coast Guard Special Agent Michael A. Perez.
The following day, when the Coast Guard approached Baluchi once more about leaving the vessel, he made a bomb threat, according to Perez. Baluchi was seen by police holding wires, so they contacted the United States.
Perez wrote that they requested assistance from the Navy Explosive Ordinance Disposal Unit to determine the bomb’s blast radius.
The Coast Guard cutters Campbell and Valiant arrived on the scene on August 28 to provide assistance, and they launched a small boat to bring food and water as well as to give Baluchi forecasts of the hurricane, according to the report.
Baluchi resisted their orders to leave the ship when they gave them. Perez wrote that he instead informed them that the bomb was a fake. Baluchi was successfully removed from the ship by the Coast Guard on August 29. He was then taken to the Miami Beach Coast Guard station on September 1.
The complaint claimed that Baluchi attempted a voyage in a comparable homemade vessel in 2014.
The Coast Guard issued him a captain of the port order in 2015 that was effective for all upcoming voyages.
Baluchi was apprehended in 2016 in a homemade boat after disobeying the order.
The Coast Guard again got involved when he made an attempt in 2021. A Thursday email from The Associated Press was not immediately answered by his attorney, Micki Bloom.