Save the Delta Queen: A private initiative to save the steamboat Delta Queen A private initiative to save the steamboat Delta Queen
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Stand alone bill in favor of the Delta Queen is on its way!

Oct 18, 2007

There is great news: As reported by Nori Muster’s "Lastest News" page, Congressman Steve Chabot of Ohio has introduced a stand alone bill to save the Delta Queen – that is, granting her a new exemption fom the Safety at Sea Act. Co-Sponsors of the bill are, so far: Representatives W. Todd Akin (MO), Richard H. Baker (LA), Marsha Blackburn (TN), Wm. Lacy Clay (MO), Jo Ann Emerson (MO), Kenny C. Hulshof (MO), Ron Kind (WI), Jean Schmidt (OH), Timothy J. Waltz (MN), Zach Wamp (TN), Ed Whitfield (KY).

Now is the big moment where the efforts of the whole steamboater’s community need to be combined, supporting this bill, H.R. 3852.

Now it’s your turn, and as Jo Ann Schoen uses to say: GO, GO, GO!  and I add: NOW!

– Contact your local politicians, city councils, Congressmen and urge them to support the bill. We need their help, so please be polite, but let them know how important it is for you and your community to keep the Delta Queen running.

– If you know a Representative willing to co-sponsor the bill, please contact Rep. Steve Chabot’s office in Washington (Anna Rack (202) 225-2216). The more support the bill gets, toe better the chances to get it through the Congress. (see Nori Muster’s site for more details.)

How important the Delta Queen is for little river towns

Sep 9, 2007

 An article in the Evansville Courier & Press (The Queen & her court – Riverboat gives people look at Ohio River towns) hauntingly shows how important the visits of the Majestic America Line boats are for little river towns like Grandview, Indiana. Every politician and company manager thinking of grounding the Delta Queen should be forced to read this eye-opening article to see what he is doing to the people living along the rivers when taking the Delta Queen away from them.

And it’s not about romantic feelings when a steamboat is coming ’round the bend. It’s about business and it’s about jobs – a lot of business and jobs for these river towns.

The Congress hasn’t refused the exemption yet!

Sep 2, 2007

There is a general misunderstanding on what happened on the political scene so far regarding the Delta Queen’s exemption from the Safety at Sea Act: The Congress, consisting of the House of Representatives and the Senate, hasn’t even voted on an exemption for the Delta Queen yet.

So far it’s only a single, totally uninformed and most likely Union-influenced Representative from Minnesota, Rep. James Oberstar (D), chairman of the Transportation committee, who refuses to present the exemtion to the full House of Representatives for vote. And it’s one single Union-controlled Senator, Sen. Inouye or Hawaii (D), who does the same thing in the Senate. According to an article in the Winona Daily News, the Transportation Committee of the House at least has discussed the issue, citing Rep. Walz, member of this committee: "I voted in committee for the exemption, and my reasoning was … for historical preservation". And it seams that the committee is as uninformed as its chairman is. By the way: Walz is not member of the Coast Guard subcommittee where this issue should belong to.

Let’s not blame the Congress for this, so far. Let’s force Sen. Inouye and Rep. Oberstar to respect basic democratic rules and let the people’s representatives vote on the exemption for the Delta Queen!

Let’s sent a letter-to-the-editor to every newspaper that is repeating the nonsense of "the Congress has denied the exemption". Remind them of the facts, ask them to stop copying the press release of Majestic America Line who originally has published this Congress-denied-exemption nonsense.

Arguments in Favor of the Delta Queen

Aug 12, 2007

When you’re writing or talking to politicians and reporters about the Delta Queen, there are hundreds of good arguments on favor for the Delta Queen. The Delta Queen raises big emotions in all of us. But on the political floor, this discussion is mainly about the Safety at Sea Act. Emotions are important, but try to prioritize the safety aspects before the romantic and historical ones.

Here are some ideas on what arguments are really important:

The Delta Queen is a very safe boat to travel on:

– Though the Safety at Sea Act requires noncombustible material for the construction of boats, the wooden superstructure of the Delta Queen doesn’t mean there is a bigger fire hazard. It’s a long-known fact that wooden structures often survive longer in catastrophic fires than noncombustible structures, which quickly fail and melt.

– The Safety at Sea Act assumes that ships are remote from land and other vessels. The Delta Queen can be landed in minutes over the entire route she traverses. Her forward mounted swing bridge and inflatable emergency boats on the stern make it easy and effective to evacuate passengers very quickly within moments of notice. Also remember that the staterooms on the Delta Queen have exits directly to open decks, except for the cabins in the Betty Blake Lounge, which have a big window to an open deck. There are no dead walkways on the whole boat and there are several outside staircases between all cabin decks.

– The boat and its crew are rigorously inspected and tested by the Coast Guard at frequent intervals.

– The Delta Queen is protected by an efficient sprinkler system and sophisticated electronic monitoring systems.

– The vessel has operated safely for more than eighty years. In all that time the boat has not been responsible for even a single passenger death, nor any type of fire where passengers had to disembark the vessel.

Excellent safety record. With her excellent safety record, safety appliances, and crew training, it seems clear that the Delta Queen provides far less risk to the safety of her passengers than they experience in their everyday lives. Think of how few of the many safety features mentioned you have in hotels, offices, or in your own home.

Business and Jobs. Remind local politicians and reporters of how much business the Delta Queen brings to the river towns. Remind them of the many employees on the boat itself and the people on shore who support this boat, both within Majestic America Line and at third party companies providing amenities.

Passengers can make their own decisions. Passengers know very well about the age and the wooden structure of the boat when they board. That’s actually why they have booked a cruise on this boat. Compliant to the Safety at Sea Act, every passenger signs a statement that he/she has understood that the boat doesn’t meet some of the requirements of the law. Nobody is being forced to travel on this boat; they’re free to make their own travel decisions. This is a free country, so why should Congress make this decision for the passengers upfront?

The Delta Queen is part of our American Heritage. And of course, don’t forget to mention the Delta Queen is part of our American Heritage, just like the Lincoln Monument, the Statue of Liberty, or the White House in Washington DC. There is no good reason to deny her to continue to carry on the great American tradition of passenger-carrying stern-wheel steamboating.

 

The Word is Spreading

Aug 8, 2007

The word is spreading, newspapers and TV stations are reporting about the Delta Queen’s destiny. Most of the news media are more or less copying the Ambassador’s PR message, but there are some who do their own research, too.

So far the best article was in the Cincinnati Post, written by staff reporter Greg Paeth: "All aboard the Queen? Maybe not anymore", including – amongst others – statements from Virginia Bennett, from politicians and from Majestic America Line’s PR agency with some interesting between-the-lines information.

A very good article just showed up today at Cruise Mates: Loosing the Delta Queen by Nori Muster of steamboats.com. As most of you probably know, Nori is the daughter of Bill Muster, who was one of the most important people in the 1970’s Save the Delta Queen campaign. The article tells the story of this campaign with a lot of details and is very well worth reading.

On Aug. 8 Associate Press has sent out a News Alert about the Delta Queen. Unfortunately our campaign is not mentioned at all. But it’s a first, important step to get broader attention for the issue.

And the word is also spreading in the blogger scene. Definitely worth reading is John Armor’s posting "Mark Twain Says Congress is an Idiot" at Free Republic. His central statement is: "I’m not suggesting that the Delta Queen should be written into the Constitution to protect it forever from the neglect of Congress. I AM suggesting that if you care about America’s greatest river, the Mississippi, if you’ve ever seen or heard the Delta Queen plying the waters of that great River, live, on TV or in movies, you should act."

If you meet or know a local newspaper reporter, encourage him or her to write his own story about the Delta Queen. I think this is a story worth watching for every journalist in this country – there is some potential for unexpected scoops and there is a lot of emotions and patriotism in this story. This is what reporters usually love. I know, because I’m a journalist, too …

What is Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS)?

Aug 4, 2007

There is much discussion about SOLAS, so I did some research to find out what exactly it is. SOLAS describes two different regulations – one is the "International Convention for Safety of Life at Sea", the other is the Public Law 89-777 from 1966, popular name: "Safety at Sea Act" or "Safety of Life at Sea Act". The international convention called SOLAS applies only to ships engaged on international voyages. That means, the Delta Queen is not directly effected by this. What effects the Delta Queen though is the Safety at Sea Act (P.L. 89-777). P.L. 89-777 includes that passenger vessels "having berth or stateroom accomodations for 50 or more passengers" have to be compliant with the SOLAS regulations of 1960 and some ammendments. (Thanks very much to the National Mississippi River Museum and Aquarium and Dubuque County Historical Society for sending us a copy of P.L. 89-777). The DQ was granted a two-years delay in enactment in an amendment directly to this law, and again a two-years delay was issued in 1968. 1970 was the year of the first big "Save the Delta Queen" campaign. Despite all efforts (see steamboats.com for details) the campaign almost failed. Eventually the Delta Queen got a new 3-years exemption. After that an exemption was re-issued several times, including the exemption that is now expiring in November 2008.

International Convention SOLAS The "International Convention for Safety of Life at Sea" exists already since 1914. This first version was passed in response to the Titanic disaster in 1912. Since then there had been several versions and since 1948 the International Maritime Organization (IMO) develops and maintains SOLAS.

The relevant version for the Delta Queen was adopted in 1960 and entered into force in 1965. An amendment from 1966, which is referred to in the Safety at Sea Act P.L. 89-777, deals with special fire safety measures. The actual version or SOLAS, dating back to 1974, came into effect in May 1980 (full text: www.austlii.edu.au/au/other/dfat/treaties/1983/22.html). What seams to be important for the Delta Queen – because she's not effected by that – is that only since the 1974 SOLAS the convention is being extended and altered by amendments, but there are not completely new versions. A more detailed history of SOLAS can be found on the Metal Safe Sign Int. website. SOLAS 1974 is special because its regulations can become national law without ever passing the US Congress or the desk of the President. It's based on a so called "tacit acceptance" which means if a country doesn't contradict within a given time frame it comes into effect automatically. This is a very interesting procedure, being more and more used for international treaties to speed up the process as it forces countries to act instead of waiting decades until the last of the member countries' parliament has taken care of a treaty to come into effect. Florida based maritime attorney Rod Sullivan is discussing this issue more in detail in his blog entry The IMO and the “Tacit Acceptance Procedure” . SOLAS 2010, effecting many of the older cruise ships, consists of some amendments made in 2006, going into effect on July 1, 2010. They contain new and stricter safety regulations especially for passenger vessels.

I love the Delta Queen

Aug 3, 2007

No caption needed for this picture … “Capt.” Leonie (7) has painted it right after she has heard that the Delta Queen will probably stop operations end of 2008. Leonie has a record of 3 Delta Queen and 3 Mississippi Queen cruises plus an American Queen cruise in less than two weeks from now.

I love the Delta Queen painting by Leonie