Salvors Raise Sunken Duck Boat

Video still of the Stretch Duck 7 just before the sinking (social media)

By The Maritime Executive 07-23-2018 10:49:15

On Monday, salvors raised the wreck of the tour boat Stretch Duck 7, which went down last Thursday on Table Rock Lake, Missouri, killing 17 passengers and crew. 

With the assistance of divers, a salvage team with the U.S. Coast Guard raised the amphibious vehicle using a floating crane and brought it to shore. It will be loaded on a trailer and transferred to the custody of a National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) investigation team. 

On Saturday, a member of the NTSB told media that the vessel's black box has been recovered. Its contents will be extracted at laboratories in Washington, D.C.

On Thursday evening, two Ride the Ducks amphibious tour boats departed the dock at Branson, Missouri for an outing on Table Rock Lake. A line of severe thunderstorms blew through the area, bringing winds of up to 65 mph and waves of five feet. One boat made it to safety, but the other capsized and sank. Fourteen people were saved from the water, including the captain, and 17 died. 

In an interview with ABC News, victims' lawyer Robert A. Clifford said that the Ride the Ducks boats should not have been on that water at all that day due to the ominous weather reports. Taking the boat out at that hour of Thursday evening was inexplicable, he said. 

Among other areas of focus, the NTSB will be examining what the vessel operator knew about the weather forecast prior to the accident voyage. Franchise owner Ripley Entertainment says that the conditions were unexpected. 

Duck boat accidents have claimed the lives of more than 40 people over the past two decades. Prominent incidents include a deadly sinking in 1999 near Hot Springs, Arkansas, which killed 13 people; a collision in 2010 in Philadelphia, which killed two; and an onshore crash in Seattle, Washington in 2015, which killed five.

In an interview with USA Today, former NTSB chairman Jim Hall called for a ban on the amphibious tour boats. Hall was the investigative body's head at the time of the deadly 1999 sinking. “My feeling after seeing this one is that the only thing to do in the name of public safety is to ban them," Hall told USA TODAY. "I think it’s the responsible thing to do to ensure [riders] are not put at risk.”