U.S. Coast Guard Convenes Marine Board of Investigation into Fatal Duck Boat Sinking

duck boat salvage
The Coast Guard oversees the removal of Stretch Duck 7 from Table Rock Lake in Branson, Missouri, July 23, 2018. U.S. Coast Guard Photo

The Commandant of the U.S. Coast Guard has convened a formal Marine Board of Investigation (MBI) into the loss of the U.S.-flagged amphibious duck boat, Stretch Duck 07, which occurred July 19, 2018 with the loss of 17 lives.

The “Ride The Ducks” amphibious vehicle had 29 passengers and two crewmembers aboard for a tour when it capsized and sank on Table Rock Lake near Branson, Missouri during severe weather. One crewmember and 16 passengers died in the accident.

A commandant-directed formal Marine Board of Investigation is the highest-level investigation in the Coast Guard.

The investigation into the Stretch Duck 07 is only the fifth Marine Board of Investigation to be convened in the last decade. Previous MBIs have investigated losses including the F/V Destination, SS El Faro, Deepwater Horizon, and Alaska Ranger back in 2008.

“Our hearts go out to the victims as well as the families and friends that have been impacted by this terrible tragedy that occurred in Branson,” said Capt. Wayne Arguin, chairman of the Marine Board of Investigation.

“The Coast Guard will conduct a thorough and detailed investigation to identify all potential causal factors associated with this tragedy.”

The marine board consists of five members who will investigate all aspects of the casualty including, but not limited to, the pre-accident historical events relating to the accident, the regulatory compliance of Stretch Duck 07, crewmember duties and qualifications, weather conditions and reporting, and Coast Guard oversight.

During the course of the MBI, panel members will decide the factors that contributed to the accident; whether there is evidence that any act of misconduct, inattention to duty, negligence or willful violation of the law on the part of any licensed or certificated person contributed to the casualty; and whether there is evidence that any Coast Guard personnel or any representative or employee of any other government agency or any other person caused or contributed to the casualty.

In advance of the investigation’s findings, Rear Adm. John Nadeau, assistant commandant for prevention policy, sent a Marine Safety Information Bulletin to all Officers in Charge of Marine Inspection (OCMI), as well as vessel owners, operators, and masters, to review routes and conditions, review company operations manuals, conduct extensive crew training and drills, and encourage companies to have a proactive approach to vessel oversight.

Both the NTSB and the Coast Guard have agreed that the NTSB will lead the marine casualty investigation effort with the Coast Guard joining as an equal partner, in accordance with Joint Federal Regulations.