- Domestic Vessels

MSIB: Recommendation for DUKW Passenger Vessel Canopy Removal

The Coast Guard Assistant Commandant for Prevention Policy has published Marine Safety Information Bulletin 15-20, “Recommendation for DUKW Passenger Vessel Canopy Removal.”

This MSIB recommends that operators of DUKW-type small passengers vessels remove canopies to ensure passenger and crew member egress is not impeded during emergency situations.

On July 19, 2018, the DUKW-type amphibious passenger vessel Stretch Duck 7 encountered a storm and sank while carrying passengers on a Missouri lake. The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) is the lead federal agency for the marine casualty investigation, and the Coast Guard is conducting a Marine Board of Investigation (MBI) to determine potential causal factors associated with this tragedy along with applicable regulatory or policy recommendations.

Following the sinking of the DUKW Miss Majestic in 1999, the NTSB and Coast Guard found the vessel, like many small passenger vessels certificated for similar routes and operating conditions, lacked sufficient reserve buoyancy to remain afloat and upright when flooded. Additionally, the canopy and side curtains on the Miss Majestic restricted passenger egress. In response, the Coast Guard developed Navigation and Vessel Inspection Circular (NVIC) 1-01 “Inspection of Amphibious Passenger Carrying Vehicles” which detailed operational requirements and laid out an equivalent level of safety to other vessels certificated under 46 Code of Federal Regulations Subchapter T for items such as modifications to the side curtains to improve emergency egress.

During the preliminary NTSB investigation of the Stretch Duck 7 incident, the Agency reissued safety recommendation M-19-016 to the Coast Guard regarding the removal of canopies on DUKW vessels that lack sufficient reserve buoyancy to stay afloat when flooded. The preliminary findings of the Coast Guard’s Stretch Duck 7 MBI align with the NTSB’s recommendation to remove DUKW canopies in order to ensure emergency egress is not impeded. Owners and operators opting to remove canopies shall work with their local Coast Guard Officer in Charge of Marine Inspection (OCMI) and the Marine Safety Center to arrange an inspection and stability review prior to recommencing operations. All vessel operators are reminded that they should always follow the requirements listed on the vessel’s Certificate of Inspection (COI), paying particular attention to wind and wave restrictions to ensure they will not be exceeded for the duration of each voyage.

The Coast Guard will consider implementation of further safety measures for DUKWs at the conclusion of the MBI, and initiate a policy update to NVIC 1-01 with input from public and industry stakeholders.

Questions concerning this notice may be forwarded to Coast Guard Office of Commercial Vessel Compliance, Commandant (CG-CVC), by email to CG-CVC@uscg.mil.

This blog is not a replacement or substitute for the formal posting of regulations and updates or existing processes for receiving formal feedback of the same. Links provided on this blog will direct the reader to official source documents, such as the Federal Register, Homeport and the Code of Federal Regulations. These documents remain the official source for regulatory information published by the Coast Guard.

2 replies »

  1. This doesn’t seem like a lot of progress since Miss Majestic especially considering the NTSB recommendations were spot on. I suppose a positive outcome of the current pandemic is that these deathtraps aren’t operating.

  2. Old sad tragedy of neglect, but still relevant to draw lessons learnt and provide more guidelines for domestic passenger vessels. ISM Code Clause 5 (5.1 & 5.2) do emphasize Master’s over riding authority. Clause 6.1 also requires competence of the Master, implying ability to make decisions. Going into icebergs is as old as the Titanic. Why do Master’s do it? Is it commercial pressure from owners and operators or incompetence? Statutory directions are often necessary when owners do not show responsibility on their own. ISM Code is for internationally trading vessels, but is the best available document which can be used by adjusting as required for domestic use, as has been done by our wonderful USCG with Sub Chapter M for towing vessels.