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Is this really about safety?

Mar 9, 2008

In this whole discussion, the topic should be; "How safe is the Delta Queen, and is she safe enough to allow her to carry overnight passengers?" Well, I would say that not even this should be the question because free people in a free country can decide for themselves. But for the sake of discussion, let’s assume it’s necessary to protect the people from such risks by law.

How big is the risk to your life when taking a cruise on the Delta Queen? Not just the risk of a fire – well, yes, the Safety at Sea Act affects the Delta Queen only in terms of fire safety, but is it right to say: "We do care about people potentially burning to death, but we don’t care about the same people drowning?" Even worse, is it right to say: "We don’t care about people potentially burning to death only if it’s 50 or more people"? That’s actually what the Safety at Sea Act states.

Aren’t there other risks than fire, too? Does anyone care about these? Just for example – what about a collision with other boats–namely the numerous towboats that are running up and down the rivers – this has happened to the Mississippi Queen before; and it happens between towboats from time to time.

Is anyone seriously thinking of outlawing the running of a boat because it can possibly hit another boat and sink? No, of course not, because that’s part of the nature of boats. That is why we have and believe in navigational rules, in good technology, and in well-trained pilots. These three safety factors make collisions relatively unlikely.

Why is the risk of a fire being treated so differently? Because we’re still feeling like Neanderthal people, being afraid of fire? Because we’re not willing to accept that just because wood makes a great campfire doesn’t automatically mean a boat with a wooden superstructure will burst into flames like a dry fir in a hot summer? Is it because we don’t trust in fire detection systems? The Delta Queen has one of the most modern fire monitoring and powerful sprinkler system onboard ANY boat that is always being observed by two trained crew members in the pilot house, plus a watchman checking the whole boat every 15 minutes, day and night. Why do we trust in technology when it comes to navigational risks, but do not trust in technology for fire prevention and protection? I think you know the answer yourself – it doesn’t make any sense at all.

Let’s check some more facts: What makes a fire so dangerous? It’s not the flames or the heat that makes a fire so dangerous–especially in the beginning; it’s the toxic fumes. If you don’t believe me, please ask at your local fire department. Therefore, in case of a fire it’s extremely important to reach open space, leaving inside rooms as quickly as possible. Now, from this perspective, the Delta Queen is one of the safest boats you can be on. Why? Because almost every stateroom has a direct door to open decks. The few remaining cabins do have a big window to open decks (just smash them and climb out) and there are always at least two exit routes in totally different directions you can take from these cabins. Again, very important, these escape routes are extremely short. It takes you less than approximately 20 to 30 feet to the next door to open decks.

Let’s compare this to one of the mid-sized, ocean-going 3,000-passengers cruise ships. They’re made from steel. But again, ask your local fire department: What burns first? It’s furniture, bed linen, curtains and all the synthetic cloths and other plastic stuff you bring with you. This stuff causes toxic fumes and thick, dark smoke. You want to escape from this as quickly as possible. No difference than if you were on the Delta Queen. But the big difference is the length of the escape routes. They can be 10 times as long as ones on the Delta Queen can. In addition, they’re usually really narrow (not broad salons like on the Delta Queen) and thousands of passengers are using them at the same time. In many cases you’ll have to use a staircase to reach an outside deck, often several floors up. On the Delta Queen the cabins with no direct door to open decks are on the main deck, no staircases involved at all. All other staircases you may need to use are outside staircases.

What I want to say is; You’ll long have left not only your cabin, but have left the entire boat on the Delta Queen before the "wood or steel" question is even a relevant factor in case of a fire on this boat.

This alone should stop all discussions about the safety of the Delta Queen. There are many more factors that separate the Delta Queen in a most positive way from modern cruise ships in terms of safety. But I don’t want to bore you, as this has all been written before.

Just think about it: This is not a safety issue. It can’t be. The safety of the Delta Queen can only be questioned by someone who has no information. One who has never been on the boat, who hasn’t even spent just a couple of minutes on research to find out how safe the Delta Queen really is.


8 Responses to “Is this really about safety?”

  1. Neal Kapp Says:

    You have a better chance of being hurt or killed aboard the Mark Twain paddlewheel ride at Disneyland. Which boat would you rather be on?

  2. David Dewey Says:

    Gee Neal, You want us to choose between two different steamboats?? At least the last time I rode her, she was real steam (although there’s a dismal generator aboard for all those lights)
    But, actually Neal makes a good point, the SOLAS regulations do allow for wooden boats for daytime use, IE: you can cram 1,000s of folks aboard the DQ and run in the daytime all you want–what makes that any safer????
    And, NO, the Delta Queen cannot make it as a daytime excursion steamer, she’s not designed for that. The best preservation she can get is to continue to operate as an overnight steamboat!
    David Dewey

  3. Alan Kinstler Says:

    Life has risks of all sorts. We accept or ignore countless risks every day. We don’t close national parks when climbers or camper fall, get lost or injured by an animal. We all embark on all sorts of entertainment and sport that present obvious and present likelihood of injury and possible death yet we don’t prevent people from these activities. What is wrong with taking the same risk our forefather took and where glad to have the opportunity. This PC/Nanny Society has spoiled so many aspect of you way of like. It must be a wonder to them that the baby boomers ever reached adulthood with all the hazards that we faced without helmets, airbags, knee pads and harnesses of every description. We did survive. We need to ask these overprotective intruders to keep their need for control over risk to themselves. We do not need to be protected of our selves. Life is an adventure. This is a free country, which includes the freedom to experience life and take a chance on enjoyment.

  4. Mrs. Bettie Russo Says:

    I must agree that this is not a question of the Delta Queen’s safety. This steamboat is very safe. I not only believe this to be a fact, I have stayed overnight on the Delta Queen in the past, and will again this April. The fact is, the Queen is a National treasure. She IS a vital piece of American History that is threatened by an ignorant political populace. If the Liberty Bell or Statue of Liberty were threatened, there would be a National outcry….WHY THEN ARE WE NOT CRYING OUT TO PROTECT AND DEFEND THE DELTA QUEEN???? I believe it is an unfortunate truth that the bottom line falls to the pocketbooks of those in power. Ignorance is NOT BLISS !!! We must educate the US Public and our elected officials regarding The Delta Queen before it is too late. She is a VERY SAFE VESSEL, that has the unique ability to stop and pull over at any time of day or night and allow all passengers to simply walk off her deck to safety if it were ever needed. No other vessel on the sea or the rivers and lakes of this country can offer this to it’s passengers.

  5. Rob Says:

    This is the mentality of our government today. Americans today have fewer and fewer God given rights, and loosing more each and everyday. Stand up for our freedom of choice before its too late. Big brother wants total control over every man, woman and child in this nation.

  6. Rick Johnson Says:

    It gets sickening to watch someone pander to special interest and American history gets the short end because of it. The Union Lobby is manipulative and vindictive and will stop at nothing to punsh anyone who challenge their power. It doesn’t matter who gets hurt or what is lost as loing as they remain in power.

  7. The world is looking at the Delta Queen Says:

    […] Is this really about safety? […]

  8. Donnie Says:

    I think the Delta Queen, even with her wooden superstructure, is as safe as any modern vessel. First, the Queen does have one of the most advanced fire suppression systems aboard a vessel. Next, there are atleast 2 easily accessible exits to the outer decks from anywhere onboard. In the event of a fire THAT gets out of hand THAT the fire suppression system cant extenguish, then yes the Queen would become fully enflamed quicker than a steel structured vessel. But, by the time that dreadful out of control moment was reached, she would already have made it to a shore and the passengers offloaded. People stay in old wooden hotels, with long narrow hallways, and sometimes no sprinkler systems…hmmm. Personally, I’d feel MUCH safer on the Queen for an overnight stay. When you board ANY wooden structure, be it floating or dry, you are aware of fire possibilities. So, what comes next? Outlaw everything wooden thats capable of staying the night in? Uh oh…..