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New Rules for Duck Boat Type Vehicles

The United States Coast Guard has new rules for old watercrafts now known as "duck boats."

This comes five years after Branson experienced the tragic duck boat accident which left 17 people dead. The document states that the "legal basis for this rulemaking is the James M. Inhofe National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2023." Duck boats are now required to meet nine rules.

The document states the following:

  1. Remove the canopies and any window coverings of such vessels for waterborne operations, or install a canopy that does not restrict horizontal or vertical escape by passengers in the event of flooding or sinking;
  2. If a canopy and window coverings are removed from any such vessel pursuant to paragraph (1), require that all passengers wear a personal flotation device approved by the Coast Guard before the onset of waterborne operations of such vessel;
  3. Reengineer such vessels to permanently close all unnecessary access plugs and reduce all through-hull penetrations to the minimum number and size necessary for operation;
  4. Install independently powered electric bilge pumps that can dewater such vessels at the volume of the largest remaining penetration in order to supplement an operable Higgins pump or a dewatering pump of equivalent or greater capacity;
  5. Install in such vessels not fewer than four independently powered bilge alarms;
  6. Conduct an in-water inspection of any such vessel after each time a through-hull penetration has been removed or uncovered;
  7. Verify the watertight integrity of any such vessel through an in-water inspection at the outset of each waterborne departure;
  8. Install underwater light emitting diode (LED) lights that activate automatically in an emergency; and
  9. Otherwise comply with any other provisions of relevant Coast Guard guidance or instructions in the inspection, configuration, and operation of such vessels.

The document is available online.

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