NTSB Says Failure to Heed Weather Warning Led to Fatal Sinking of Duck Boat

The article says “The operator of a Branson, Missouri duck boat failed to heed a severe thunderstorm warning…” but the report mentions the company “Ride the Ducks”, and uses the term "operator to refer to the captain. I didn’t see anything about failure on the part of the operator/captain.

. Ride the Ducks did not effectively use all available weather information to monitor
the approaching severe weather and assess the risk it posed to its waterborne
5. Ride the Ducks should have suspended waterborne operations for the Stretch Duck 7
and the other last tours of the day in anticipation of imminent severe weather.
6. Ride the Ducks should have had specific guidance for the operations team to
determine when to suspend waterborne operations due to approaching severe weather
(go/no-go policy).
7. It is likely that the captain believed he could safely complete the waterborne portion
of the tour before the thunderstorm arrived.
8. The captain’s decision to head toward the exit ramp when encountering the severe
weather was appropriate.

The other notable item is according to the report the water initially entered the boat from the engine air intake

Initial water ingress to the Stretch Duck 7 was likely from waves rolling over the air
intake hatch’s spring-loaded damper and intermittently opening it, thereby allowing
water into the engine compartment.


I expected a ban on these ‘vessels’ but no, recommendations galore instead.

The NTSB also cited U.S. Coast Guard’s failure to require sufficient reserve buoyancy in amphibious vessels astern contributing to the accident. The NTSB investigators found that the duck boat was originally constructed with a low freeboard, an open hull, and no subdivision or flotation, which resulted in a design without adequate reserve buoyancy.

The NTSB noted previous inaction to address emergency egress on amphibious passenger vessels with fixed canopies which impeded passenger escape from the Stretch Duck 7. Both reserve buoyancy and improved emergency egress, including the fixed canopies, were the subject of a previous NTSB Marine Safety Recommendation issued in November 2019.

Ride the ducks was a shitshow from the beginning. Rode the real “Ducks” off of Little Creek Amphibious base, no canopies but did have grey paint.

The accident in Philly was due to a tug operator which ran them over. The weather related accident was again, operator error. These vessels should be banned,period. Navy doesn’t use them any more for a reason.

The NTSB cannot “ban” anything. They can only make recommendations. It is up to the USCG and, if necessary, Congress, to enact regulations or laws to implement these recommendations.

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Agree, NTSB only makes recommendations. Board those vessels any time you like. And please don’t bring your kids.

Yeah, a more appropriate, if long, headline would’ve been:
Failure to Heed Weather Warning Lead to Sinking, Failure of USCG to Heed Decades old NTSB Recommendations Lead to Fatalities.


Tomorrow is the last day to bid if you want to own your very own fleet of Ducks…just need minor structural modifications for safety’s sake (or possibly none at all).


The infamous duck boat tours that were once popular across the nation have all but disappeared after 40 people died aboard the attractions in the past 20 years. As such, the amphicars are being sold off by the lot with 19 heading to auction in Seattle over the next week.

Good riddance. Or will there be a new start made by somebody who buys a number of these machines? Hope not…

A copy of the NTSB report detailing the 2015 incident that ultimately put them out of business.


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The wheels of justice continue to turn…
3 men charged over 2018 fatal Missouri tourist boat accident (msn.com)

The report doesn’t mention the fact that a Duck is not designed to carry passengers, let alone children. Canopies preventing escape, almost no freeboard and no reserve buoyancy is a guarantee and recipe for disaster. These Ducks were/are in my opinion unsafe and unfit to sail and should have been prohibited to do so. One can only wonder why crucial deficiencies like that were not mentioned in the report.

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