Passenger Vessels

CG Issues New Interim Rule For Duck Boats

The Coast Guard issued an interim rule September 1 as the first step to implement the statutorily-mandated requirements for DUKW amphibious passenger vessels (informally known as duck boats). This statutory mandate was enacted after the sinking of the Stretch Duck 7 on July 19, 2018, which resulted in the loss of 17 lives on Table Rock Lake in Missouri.

Section 11502 of the James M. Inhofe National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2023 mandated additional safety measures for DUKW amphibious passenger vessels operating on navigable waters subject to Coast Guard jurisdiction. This interim final rule codifies the nine statutorily-mandated requirements.

This interim rule became effective on September 11. Interested persons are invited to submit comments and related material on or before December 11.

The nine requirements are:

(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) Re-engineer 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 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.

For more information, contact Jaideep Sirkar by phone at 202-372-1366 or by email at