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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Save the Delta Queen – a status report

Jan 12, 2008

The Delta Queen is far away from being saved, but there is hope. But she needs every helping hand, more than ever before. Stand up and fight for your beloved steamboat. The following status report summarizes recent developments and gives some insight in what’s going on at the moment.

Majestic America Line and Ambassador’s International

We’ve been observing a lot of changes at Ambassador’s and Majestic America line within the last couple of weeks: David Giersdorf is no longer with the company. Former Delta Queen Steamboat Company president Robert P. Mosier from the early 1980s now is a member of the Board of Directors of Ambassador’s International. Ambassador’s CEO Joseph J. Ueberroth signs as Interim President of Majestic America Line

Ambassador’s International has decided to contract the Monaco, Europe, based V.Ships Leisure to manage the vessel operations of Majestic America Line, which includes deck, engine and hotel crew management, procurement, and technical and hotel operations. As of December 31, 2007, many managers and employees of the Seattle office are gone.

From all we know, as of today we’re very sure that Majestic America Line and Ambassador’s International are fully backing the campaign to save the Delta Queen and are working on the exemption heavily in the background.

The Coast Guard

We do have evidence that the Coast Guard is consistently opposing legislation to renew the exemption for the Delta Queen. Officially they’re talking about an “unacceptable risk in regards to fire safety […] because of the use of combustible materials in its construction and its advanced age”, especially expressing the “lack of fire extinguishing capability in the accommodation space”.

We have, with all respect, shown earlier that this is simply not true. We have shown that the Delta Queen is in fact very safe in a case of fire because of multiple escape routes, the very short distances passengers would have to walk or run to reach open decks, the high number of staff available to help elderly people and the fact that almost every cabin has a direct door to open decks. We have shown that wood per se is not more dangerous than other material that is happily accepted by the Coast Guard.

All this makes me assume that the Coast Guard’s opposition has other reasons of political or other nature.

There seams to be a general misinterpretation of the effects of a renewed exemption by the Congress. And the Coast Guard seams to utilize this for their interests, i.e. not taking the responsibility for grounding the Delta Queen but shifting the blame to the Congress. They might also fear legal action in case they deny a certificate of inspection for the Delta Queen. It’s much easier for them if the Congress doesn’t even allow them to issue a certificate.

The misinterpretation of the effects of a renewed exemption

The exemption is needed as the Safety at Sea Act doesn’t allow the US Coast Guard to issue a certificate of inspection (which is required to operate the vessel) when SOLAS requirements are not met. One important fact that usually is being overlooked in the discussion is that the Delta Queen will not be allowed to continue operations by the exemption by the US Congress directly but only through the US Coast Guard’s certificate of inspection which the exemption allows them to issue if they consider the vessel as safe.

The Seafarers International Union (SIU)

The Unions, mainly the Seafarers International Union SIU, didn’t comment the Delta Queen issue for a long time until mid of November they published a harsh press release, the “SIU statement on Delta Queen”. In essence they said that they don’t have any direct influence on legislation but "our [SIU’s] role in helping safely operate the vessel is one reason why the waiver had been granted in years past." Read between the lines …

The United States Congress

Representative Steve Chabot has a bill on the way to save the Delta Queen, rallying for support of fellow representatives as well as the media and people. So far, bill H.R. 3852 has 22 co-sponsors while much more than that are needed to get the bill around the Transportation Committee where Chairman Rep. Oberstar is still blocking anything concerning the Delta Queen. HERE is where EVERYONE can and should help: Send a fax (yes, that’s the best method, besides written letters) to your Representative and Senator and explain to them how important it is to support this bill, and for Representatives how important it is to act as a co-sponsor of H.R. 3852. Let them know that the Delta Queen IS NOT UNSAFE, despite what others are telling them. Encourage them to contact Rep. Steve Chabot who has all the details.

The two key politicians in the process of reissuing the exemption haven’t changed their minds: Congressman James Oberstar, chairman of the Transportation Committee of the US House of Representatives, and Senator Daniel Inouye, Chairman of Commerce Committee at the US Senate commerce.senate.gov/, are still strictly refusing to let a bill hit the floor of the full House or Senate that would give the Delta Queen the desired exemption.

The Save-the-Delta-Queen Campaign

Multiple grass-rooting activities are going on everywhere, some very active individuals have collected thousands of signatures for the Delta Queen exemption, the online petition on steamboats.org now has more than 1.100 so far, many (but still by far not enough!) people have sent letters and faxes to Representatives and Senators, many city councils along the rivers have issued resolutions in favour of the DQ and there was and is huge media coverage, including long articles in the New York Times, Los Angeles Times and International Herald Tribune. Not to forget and very important, too: There is a lot of background work going on that’s not suitable for being discussed in the public.

Not enough support, yet!

But there are still too many of our fellow fans of the Delta Queen who just lean back and wait for others to save the Delta Queen for them. THIS WILL NOT WORK! If the Delta Queen is important for you, stand up and fight actively for her. She needs your support, now.

It will be a very tough challenge to get the exemption. We’re fighting political windmills, we need a huge public uproar against these political games that will take us away our beloved Delta Queen if we can’t show massively that the American people is not willing to accept that an important part of their history simply is being dumped.

3 Comments »

3 Responses to “Save the Delta Queen – a status report”

  1. brett loutensock Says:

    i’m moving to paducah ky in may 2008. i have been looking at pics and have been very excited about seeing the delta queen and takiing a trip on her. i hope she can be saved. i don’t know what i can do but when i get there i look forward to being invovled.

    brett

  2. brett loutensock Says:

    GO DELTA QUEEN!

  3. Mrs. Bettie Russo Says:

    To take the Delta Queen off the rivers will be a National Travesty ! I have been on the Delta Queen, and will be for the Great Steamboat races this year. I am a Southern lady and my family has been in this country since the middle 1600’s. The Delta Queen is the only surviving authentic steamboat in the world that is still on America’s rivers. She is the very lifeblood of my Southern Heritage and OUR AMERICAN HERITAGE! She must NOT be swept away like so much other American history. She IS SAFE ! At any point in time, she can pull over to the river’s edge, drop the gangplank and off her passangers go. No other boat can do that. All her cabins open to the outside decks. She is our Heritage. If she is taken off the rivers, we should just as well tear down the statue of Liberty, or tear down Montecello. The Delta Queen Is equal to them in status as a “National Historic Landmark”. How can we allow this????