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


A link to Cliff Mass Weather Blog and Climate Blog

The Unnecessary Tragedy in Missouri: Lessons for Our Society

The tragedy of this loss is compounded by the fact that it was totally avoidable: National Weather Service forecasts and warnings were excellent, and the weather radar showed the developing threat well before the boat even entered the water.

Unfortunately, this kind of avoidable tragedy is not an isolated incident, highlighting the need to connect the ever increasing abilities of meteorologists with the needs of society to be warned and to avoid severe weather.


That article reads to me as though they’re saying this wouldn’t have happened if there had been better weather information distribution. I’m not buying it… the captain knew there was a storm, had access to the current and forecast conditions, and ultimately made the wrong call while operating a vehicle that was known to have little room for these kinds of mistakes.


I see that the first and oldest Duck tour in Wisconsin has said that there is nothing wrong with their operation and they don’t plan to change anything.

I don’t think that’s the right message. Seems like it would be better if they said something along the lines of “we have confidence in our captains and procedures but, of course in the light of recent events we plan a thorough review.”

That’s how I read that article, the NWS is always looking at how they communicate warnings and so forth to the public, this needs to be looked at as well.

Having said that the public does seem to have a poor understanding of how forecasts work. I’m sure many mariners can benefit from improving understanding as well. I mentioned up thread how I’ve made errors using radar phone apps so I can see how it can happen.

I see this is what is recommended for phones in situations like this: image - here


That strikes me as just as idiotic as it would have been for Chevron or BP to say back in ‘89, “oh, that was an Exxon issue, we have faith in our Captains not running up on a reef so we think we’ll fight against OPA 90 when they try to push it on us.”

Seriously, if other DUKW operators aren’t looking at this and making sure they don’t have the same issues, it WILL happen again somewhere.


Nothing wrong? That remains to be seen and can only be established after the NTSB’s investigation. This is insurance talk. They wash their hands in innocence, they have done nothing wrong and the captain is probably the villain. That reminds me that until now not a word, as far as I know, has been heard of the surviving captain. His testimony is of prime importance in this case.

The boat’s captain, who had 16 years of experience on the lake, survived and was taken to a hospital, but the authorities said the other crew member, whose job was to drive the vehicle when it moved onto land, died.


Different outfit in a different state. Looks like their operation is on a river.

The advantage of adding the extra flotation before going in the water as disscussed here is that it protects from flooding regardless if the water comes up from mechanical seal or over the top from the seas.


Oops, sloppy. My mistake…


I’d say their attitude is commensurate with the fact that these accidents have happened before and business went on as usual. Betting on the selective memory of the American public and not giving a damn about improving safety unless forced to do so. Sad really


FYI - The Nexrad products are great for a big picture and *would have shown the duck boat captain a very nasty storm headed his way. OTOH they are terrible for real time tactics because of the time delay. If the intrepid duck-captain thought he could just miss the storm he learned the fatal lesson that his phone showed him where the storm was 5 minutes ago or 10 or 15, not where it is NOW.
Use of nexrad products in airplanes has led to a few fatals for just this reason and we all got the memo on not using it for real time maneuvering.
Note to the water bottle guy - Adding anything to a watertight compartment other then helium reduces the buoyancy of the boat. The only time stuffing a compartment with bottles or foam helps is when it is NOT watertight. Perhaps this idea came from the guy who stuffed his airplane wings with Ping-Pong balls before a long overwater flight. This idea had merit because the wings are not watertight and also earned the pilot the nickname “Capt. Balls” :wink:


good, I am happy you had some “fun” and only hope you are finished with telling us about this “experiment” of yours. my fellow professionals here have already done a fine job in stating the obvious fallacy of your conclusions.

so enough with this nonsense! BASTA!


Well, that is the traditional approach to nearly all safety regulations that may impose a cost to a campaign contributor.

Absolutely positively nothing is done by government or industry just because it is the right thing to do.


That is precisely how you are seen by most professional mariners. Your posts merely confirm the validity of that observation.


well if the USCG won’t kill these idiotic deathtrap “things”…maybe the lawyers will


In this case you are correct, but please don’t lump all rec boasters into this category.

-50T Master


but you do realize, don’t you, how difficult it is to separate out those few dozen who might understand out from all the tens of thousands who do not have the slightest clue?


This old, beat up, small fiberglass tender with foam in the seats that was rotting and needed to go which was pulled out and then we tried a method others said worked for them. This is such a big deal to you all why again? You guys really need to come on here and insult somebody to make you feel better about yourself huh?
Lighten up guys!


That is not stuffing watertight tanks with bottles. If the tanks were sealed, the foam would not be needed. Your fix worked, but <> how to fix duck boats and not really related.


I see from the article on the main menu that some of the families are suing the duck Company quoting
_**This tragedy was the predictable and predicted result of decades of unacceptable, greed-driven, and willful ignorance of safety by the Duck Boat industry in the face of specific and repeated warnings that their Duck Boats are death traps for passengers and pose grave danger to the public on water and on land,”
Now I might be a bit stupid understanding why their family might have wanted to make a trip on one of these boats if the tradegy was predictable etc etc
Is it just the blame game therefore sue game that seems prevelant in the US.
Just asking.


The lack of seaworthiness of the DUKs might be apparent to a professional mariner and old history to those who follow maritime news but kids see a cute cartoon duck on the side of a boat with wheels, they’re jumping up and down yelling they want to go. Mom and Dad look at it and think
“Yeah, this looks like a lot of fun, and if it was dangerous the government wouldn’t let them run these things. Besides Martha, it says right here the captains are licensed by the Coast Guard so it’s gotta be safe, right?”.
That’s who the plaintiff’s lawyers are representing.


Branson duck boat tragedy prompts Coast Guard’s highest level of investigation

RANSON, Mo. — The Coast Guard has convened a commandant-directed Marine Board of Investigation into the duck boat sinking that claimed 17 lives here earlier this month.

This safety investigation has been made only three other times since 2010, according to Coast Guard spokeswoman Alana Miller.

“That is the highest-level investigation that the Coast Guard has,” Miller said Tuesday. If the Coast Guard found evidence of criminal activity, it would refer the matter to the Justice Department.

The Coast Guard’s five-person board of inquiry will look for the factors that contributed to the sinking; evidence of misconduct, negligence or law violations; and whether Coast Guard personnel or any other government agency contributed to the incident, Miller said.

The three other incidents that merited this level of investigation:
2010: Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico
2015: SS El Faro cargo ship sinking in the Atlantic Ocean during a hurricane
2017: sinking of the crab boat Destination in the Bering Strait