17 dead after duck boat sinks at Table Rock Lake near Branson, Missouri


VThat is what they call salami tactics, every now and then a slice. I also wonder about these weather limits for an open unprotected bath tub, non enclosed, type of boat which probably has a marginal stability to boot.

It is remarkable that the Irish Ministry of Transport, after the Miss Majestic incident, immediately followed the NTSB recommandations and required as a safety measure the sponsons to be fitted on the Viking Splash Ducks to improve the stability and prevent ingress of water. Action which was not taken by the America authorities! The USCG is a darling for the operators.

Note that all passengers and crew have to wear life vests.

In fact the sponsons were probably not extremely necessary as the Dublin Ducks operate only in a very benign water system, the Grand Canal Harbour in Dublin and are not exposed to the same risks as on an open lake with quite a bit of fetch as in Branson. The irony is that such sponsons were very needed in Branson and essential for a safe navigation on that lake.


The Duck Tour boats in Singapore do not carry sponson when afloat:

But they are restricted to operate on the Marina Bay Reservoir, which is very protected waters.

The DUKWs operating in Singapore appears to have additional freeboard, at least for the pax area:

PS> They also have a SG loadline marked on the sides.


These are not Dukw’s but probably a local design which maybe has better stability. That SG mark is a nice touch that needs copying elsewhere, but there is some sort of requirement that must be noted on the COI of all boats.


The minimum freeboard at the stern should be stated on the vehicle’s Certificate of Inspection and/or Stability letter. In addition a permanent mark, such as a welded bead or center punch, painted in a contrasting color to the hull, should be placed on the stern indicating this position The mark should be a horizontal line at least 8 inches in length and 1 inch in height, with its upper edge passing through the point of minimum freeboard.

I looked for that nail and horizontal line on a number of pictures but I cannot detect even one of these.


From the Captain Explorer website: http://singaporecitypass.com/captain-explorer-dukw-tour.html

Take a Duck tour trip with a talkative guide here:


The new River Cruise boats that operate in Marina Bay and Singapore River only also have Singapore Government (SG) loadline:

PS> These are electric powered since they operate on a reservoir. (Why are the Ducks allowed??)


From River Front Times We Still Don’t Know Who Ok’d The Branson Duck Boat Trip That Killed 17 People

A copy of the COI can be seen at the link. The COI includes the weather limits, a minimum freeboard of 12 inches, a requirement that the load line mark not be submerged. The maxiumum number of people allowed on board is 38, max of 37 passengers and minimum crew one master.

As to the article head line, it has been reported that the on board video showed a person coming aboard the boat just before sailing and telling the captain to switch up the tour by doing the water leg first because of the weather. The capain was seen using his phone to check the weather.


I am surprised by the number of 38 persons that are allowed on board. The average weight is then 60.5 kg, real skinny types, for a payload of maximum 2300 kg. That is way off the 83.9 kg that was mentioned already in 2016. I don’t get it.


2300 kg might not be the right number to use. It came from the military, don’t know how they got it and the hull has been modified including an additinal 15 inches length.


Also note that these have the engines exposed in the stern. There is no open hatch in the bow. . . . .


I assume that the engine position is inherent in the original design? (No sure)
According to an early post these were made in 1973-77 and of a design called LARC-V:

The access (and escape??) is via side gates, with steps rolled up like for an aircraft.


RDTI was heavily fined for violation of the Safety Act. The document gives some insight in how the “Stretch” Ducks were modified and lengthened. I could not find the new payload bit it explains that there probably is no weight problem, although we do not know how this relates to the increase in weight over the years which is now estimated at 83.9 kg per person. The NHTSA still uses the AAWPP of 150 pounds (68 kg) and multiplies that by 38 designated seating positions which amounts to 2584 kg.

Here is somebody with a strong opinion about Duck tours, unsafe but fun!


Based on a quick pass I get the impression that RTDI (Ride the Ducks Int.) is stripping DUKWs down to the frame and rebuilding in part at least to avoid highway regulations required for new vehicles as they are considered “rebuilt” military vehicles.

As an aside I see that the NTSB calls these Ducks APVs - Amphibious Passenger Vehicles"

The orginal DUKW is essentially a heavy truck modified to float, six-wheel drive etc. Seems like a safer approach would be to start with designing a safe vessels and then adding the vehicle bits and pieces.



Apart from the unsafety on the water It remains to be seen whether it is safe to drive around on land in modern traffic with a dinosaur hybrid Duck with limited driver’s field of vision. The NTSB issued a Safety Alert in November 2016 after a couple of serious road accidents that occurred with Ducks.


That consent order basically said nice try, WRONG. Too many new bits and not enough connection to a particular donor vehicle.


This photo from Dutchie post shows that (on this one at least) the windows are not individually raised and lowered. Somewhere I saw that the windows are power-operated.



The windows on the other side, as far as I can see, are up.


What is the appeal of this death trap? Why are people willingly entering something that was dangerous when it was brand new?


As is shown in the above the APV called ‘Stretch’ Duck is a complete redesign that has, apart from the frame, nothing to do with the original WWII DUKW vehicle.

What I would like to know from the USCG is if a naval architect was involved in the redesign of the DUKW as it is also a boat. Things like (initial) stability tests, establishing KG, KB, KM, GM, freeboard, load line etc needs to be addressed especially in a boat that is intended for carrying passengers. Just curious.


Don’t know anything about the U.S.C.G. and passenger boat stability. This is what google says: Small Passenger Vessel Guide - For over 6 passengers and under 150 looks like they use what is called a simpified stablity test to determine where to put the load line mark and max allowed passengers (at 185 lbs each).

Boats with over 150 passengers need to hire a naval architect.


Keep in mind this accident happened in Seattle. The DUKWs in Branson may have different features.