NTSB issues additional safety recommendations following deadly 2018 duck boat sinking

Stretch Duck 7 after it was recovered from the waters of Table Rock Lake near Branson, Missouri, following its sinking during a heavy-winds storm on July 19, 2018 (Photo: NTSB/Brian Young)

As part of its ongoing investigation of the fatal July 19, 2018, accident involving a modified World War II DUKW amphibious passenger vessel, the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) has issued a new marine safety recommendation report calling upon the US Coast Guard to require sufficient reserve buoyancy for DUKW amphibious passenger vessels, and to require the removal of canopies, side curtains, and their associated framing, while underway, for those without sufficient reserve buoyancy.

Seventeen of the 31 people aboard the modified WWII DUKW amphibious passenger vessel Stretch Duck 7 died when the vessel sank during a rapidly developing high-wind storm on Table Rock Lake near Branson, Missouri.

Since 1999, the NTSB has issued 22 safety recommendations related to modified World War II DUKW amphibious passenger vessels. Of those 22, nine were implemented, four were pending and classified open–acceptable response and the remaining nine had not been implemented and were classified open–unacceptable response, closed–unacceptable action or closed–unacceptable action/no response received.

Safety recommendation M-00-5 addressed the need for DUKWs to have adequate reserve buoyancy but was classified closed–unacceptable action/no response received, eight years after its issuance.

The NTSB believes the failure to implement previous safety recommendations related to reserve buoyancy for DUKWs contributed to the sinking of Stretch Duck 7. Similarly, the failure to implement the previously issued recommendation concerning fixed canopies, following the fatal 1999 Miss Majestic DUKW accident, likely increased the number of fatalities resulting from Stretch Duck 7‘s sinking.

The investigation of the sinking of Stretch Duck 7 is ongoing and probable cause has not yet been determined. However, information gained through the investigation warranted the issuance of the safety recommendation report before the investigation is completed.

The NTSB will issue a determination of probable cause for this accident when the investigation concludes.

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