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: Today at Louisville, on May 5 at Cincinnati

Apr 30, 2008

Today, April 30, on the steamboat race day, there will be a Save the Delta Queen Campaign rally starting at 1:00 p.m. on the waterfront in Louisville, just downriver from Joe’s Crab Shack. We need all the supporter’s we can gather to show the world that we really do love the Delta Queen.

Then, on Monday, May 5, 2008, the Save the Delta Queen Campaign will hold a rally in Cincinnati in support of legislation that will keep the historic boat in operation. The rally will take place from noon to 1:00 p.m. at the National Steamboat Monument, just above the Public Landing, where the Delta Queen will be docked.

The scheduled lineup is as follows:

Master of Ceremonies: Gordon C. Greene, former vice president of Greene Line Steamers

Speakers: Congressman Steve Chabot
Dan Hurley, Assistant Vice President for History, Cincinnati Museum Center
Alan Bernstein, owner BB Riverboats and former Delta Queen crew member
Mike Berry, President, Kentucky Derby Festival

Entertainers: The Musicians of Braeburn,
The Ohio River Minstrels,

If you can, please join us at this event to show your support.

Rep. Oberstar’s manipulatory tricks in his Delta Queen speech on the House of Representatives

Apr 27, 2008

It’s a shame that the discussion about the future of the Delta Queen became a partisan issue last week in the House of Representatives. We’re trying to change this back to a non-partisan discussion by showing where Rep. Oberstar used manipulatory tricks to get almost all of his fellow Democrat representatives to vote with him without looking at the facts and without using their brains before they voted.

Rep. Oberstar’s speech text is in green, while our comments are in black.

Just get your own picture of the situation. I’m trying to only present the facts and hold back with my personal opinion.

Mr. Speaker, I enormously respect the distinguished and amiable gentleman from Ohio, the weight-lifting champ of the House gym. When he walks on the floor, the weights quiver and shake in awe of his appearance.

He has been an advocate for the Delta Queen even back to last fall when I was in the Bethesda Naval Hospital for an operation to correct a long-standing injury to my neck. He sent a sheet cake with the Delta Queen emblazoned upon it to remind me of his diligence and of his enthusiasm for the Delta Queen. I could only eat one slice of it, but I assured him that the staff at the hospital, who had no idea what the Delta Queen was all about, appreciated this sheet cake from the very distinguished and caring gentleman from the State of Ohio.

But labor has nothing to do with this issue. I haven’t heard from a single person in any labor union about this matter.

What Rep. Oberstar doesn’t explain is why he totally changed his mind since just last year when he voted in favor of the Delta Queen exemption. And he has never explained how it comes that Majestic America Line is claiming the Union issue being the only reason for his opposition (see:, search on page for "Congressman Oberstar").

The Delta Queen was built in 1926 and carried 174 passengers, 88 state rooms. It has extensive wood superstructure. It has extensive wood interior and furniture, and for those reasons, the Coast Guard will not certify this vessel.

Simply not true. The Coast Guard has certified the Delta Queen numerous times in the past and just weeks ago. Citing a DQ crew member: "We passed our annual Coast Guard Inspection on Tuesday [= April 15, 2008] and received our new COI. The inspector was very impressed with the crew during the Fire and Abandon Ship drills."

Opposition is clear. The combustible construction of the vessel presents an unacceptable fire risk that cannot be mitigated by the addition of fire-suppression measures, says the Coast Guard. As such, the Coast Guard’s position remains unchanged. The Delta Queen should be prohibited from operating with overnight passengers. Since May 28, 1936, the United States has required that passenger vessels be constructed essentially of fire retardant material. In the interest of maritime safety, the Coast Guard, continuing their quote, has consistently opposed legislation to prolong the service of the Delta Queen. A vessel constructed of wood operating in the overnight passenger trade presents an unacceptable fire risk to its passengers and crew. It goes on at great length.

We’ve seen such a letter from a high-ranking Coast Guard officer, true. But nevertheless the Coast Guard has always issued certificates of inspection for the Delta Queen testifying her safety and compliance with the regulations while the Coast Guard could easily have refused the certificate in case the Delta Queen was not safe.

The Delta Queen can operate in daytime but not at night.

In the operation of the trade on the Mississippi River, the worst disaster in history occurred, fire onboard a paddle wheeler. Yes, in the 19th century, but 1,700 people died 100 yards from shore.

Mr. Oberstar obviously is referring to the Sultana disaster of 1865 (see details: That fire was caused by a boiler explosion, something absolutely untinkable as of today. At that time due to a lack of safety standards steamboats had an average lifetime of 3-5 years and boiler explosions were relatively common. The Delta Queen now is 82 years old and never had any major incidents in her whole lifetime. The Sultana could carry 376 persons, including crew, about double than the Delta Queen today. But the ruthless captain of the Sultana overloaded the boat with the incredible number of more than 1,700 passengers, mainly Civil War soldiers on their way back home.
If it makes any sense to compare the Sultana with the Delta Queen, then we also have to compare the Titanic with modern cruise ships and stop (at least) all Alaska cruises immediately.

On March 22 of this year, of this year, the Delta Queen had a fire in the generating room requiring the use of their fixed C02 extinguishing system. Fortunately, no one was injured. The generator shorted, caused flames to shoot out the generator end.

Isn’t that just an example how safe the Delta Queen in fact is and how well her safety appliances are working? The fire detection and extinguishing systems acted exactly as designed and did their job flawlessly. By the way: According to our sources, the fire was caused by a generator overspeed, not a short. And the fire was contained to the generator space, which is basically a metal room within the boiler room. No wood even close to it.

Earlier this month, the Queen of the West, this April, a similar paddle wheel operated by the very same company that owns and operates the Delta Queen had a fire in the engine room, required evacuation of 177 passengers and crew. Three crew members were treated for smoke inhalation.

What does the Queen of the West have to do with the Delta Queen? She is an all-steel boat with a hydraulic-driven paddlewheel; no wooden superstructure, no steam.

Last year, in May, the Empress of the North, another excursion vessel operated by the same company owning the Delta Queen, ran aground in southeast Alaska, evacuating over 200 passengers and crew; fourth grounding of that vessel in less than 4 years.

Again, what does this have to do with the Delta Queen? And very important: The Queen of the West as well as the Empress of the North are of course Coast Guard certified vessels, the navigational crew of both boats of course are holding an appropriate license issued by the Coast Guard.

Now I can understand those who live along the Mississippi River, which starts nearly in my district all the way down to the Gulf, but friends, we would never stand for limiting safety on a 747 aircraft.

a) what does a 747 airplane have to do with a steamboat? b) nobody is talking about limiting the safety on the Delta Queen. The Delta Queen is safer than she’s ever been and absolutely up to modern standards and beyond.

And over a decade ago, a foreign airline was trying to remove over-wing exits from a 747.

Trying to remove over-wing exits in fact reduces safety on a 747. Renewing the Delta Queen’s exemption does not reduce safety but maintains the level of safety she had over the last at least 40 years since she is running under these exemptions from a law that was never made for riverboats but for sea-going passenger vessels. Remember: Great Lakes ships are exempt from this law by default; riverboats had just been forgotten about to exempt by default in that law.

Congressman Bill Clinger, Pennsylvania’s ranking Republican on the Committee on Aviation with me, we stopped them from doing that. We stopped the FAA from allowing that risk to safety. We should stop this risk to safety here. Fire at night is terrifying. Oppose the amendment.

(end of Rep. Oberstar’s speech)

House of Representatives votes against the Delta Queen exemption

Apr 24, 2008

Today the House of Representatives has votes against the Delta Queen exemption as an amendment to the Coast Guard Reauthorization Bill 195 to 208 votes. There is a detailed list on which Representative has voted for or against the Delta Queen available at the website of the Office of the Clerk of the House.

What does that mean to the Delta Queen: actually not much! It was very close and there had been more Democrats (total: 22) voting for the DQ than we have Democrats on the list of co-sponsors for the stand-alone bill.

What can we do? Continue to talk to people, raise attention for our cause, show everyone how much we love the Delta Queen and how much we also love the other two boats, the Mississippi Queen and the American Queen! The three boats belong to the river and they need to be run by a strong company that is aware both of the historical importance of the Delta Queen and the unique cruise experience that all three boats have to offer to generations of passengers to come.

We will save the Delta Queen if we’re patient enough and if we find even more supporters all around the country.

3 key facts about the Delta Queen exemption

Apr 23, 2008

When talking to politicians and journalist about the exemption for the Delta Queen, there are three very important facts that everyone writing or deciding about this exemption should know:

1) It’s the Coast Guard, not the US Congress who is genuinely reponsible for the safety of all boats on US inland rivers. The Delta Queen has just received a certificate of inspection from the Coast Guard; according to DQ’s first mate "The inspector was very impressed with the crew during the Fire and Abandon Ship drills." (source:

2) Exempting the Delta Queen from the Safety at Sea Act does not give the Delta Queen a direct permission to continue running as an overnight passenger vessel. The boat still needs the Certificate of Inspection from the Coast Guard, which the Coast Guard can and must refuse in case the DQ is not considered being safe. The exemption just allows the Coast Guard to issue this certificate at all despite the existance of the Safety at Sea Act.

3) We strongly believe that an American icon and National Historic Landmark like the  Delta Queen must not be grounded by one single Representative by blocking legislation in his committee for obscure and impertinent reasons. We strongly believe that in a modern democratic country the people’s representation, the full House and Senate of the United States have the right and duty to make this decision.

And of course, the Delta Queen does have a steel hull, only parts of the superstructure is made from wood. Why am I mentioning this? Well, because now and then journalists and politicians still seam to believe that the Delta Queen is a historic boat in a sense that she’s on the technical level of the mid 1800s steamboats, pre Civil War. To make hat clear: No, she’s not! She has very high, modern standards when it comes to safety. No doubt about that at all.

Please, help us saving the Delta Queen. Check the postings below to see what you can do, especially contacting the House Leadership. It’s really important. Don’t sit back and wait for others saving the DQ for you. Every phone call, every fax, every e-mail, every signed petition counts!

Rules Committee rejects amendment

, 20

Bad news: Yesterday afternoon, the House’s Rules Committee rejected an amendment in favor of the Delta Queen to the Coast Guard Reauthorization Bill, according to the St Louis Post-Dispatch.

The amendment has been introduced by Rep. Steve Chabot in parallel to the stand-alone bill H.R. 3852. Now it’s up to the House Leadership to accept this stand-alone bill for the suspension calendar as the transportation Committee is still blocking this bill from going to the House’s floor regular schedule. See Delta Queen: important decisions this week for details how you can support this bill.

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Delta Queen: important decisions this week

Apr 20, 2008

This week might become a very important week for the Delta Queen: the Coast Guard Reauthorization Bill has been scheduled in the House of Representatives for Thursday, April 24. If the Committee on Rules will accept the Delta Queen amendment to this bill, the House will vote on the Delta Queen’s future on that day. The Rules Committee most likely meets Tuesday evening to consider the amendment. Congressman Steve Chabot, who has introduced this amendment, will testify before the Committee.

Coast Guard Reauthorization Bill and the Rules Committee:

Please, if you can, support Rep. Steve Chabot by reminding the members of the Rules Committee of the importance of this cause by fax or personally on the phone (see details and a member list of the Rules Committee here:

Stand-alone bill H.R. 3852 and the House Leadership:

At the same time we’re rallying to convince the Leadership of the House of Representatives to put the stand-alone bill for saving the Delta Queen (H.R. 3852) on the suspension schedule of the House of Representatives, which will bypass the Transportation Committee where Rep. James Oberstar is still effectively blocking everything that might save the Delta Queen. As part of this rally campaign team member Wesley Paulson has delivered copies of more than 5.000 petitions to the Washington offices of the House Leadership members personally this week.

This probably is the best chance the Delta Queen had so far. Please, if you can, support this. Check for details about how you can help to convince the House Leadership from putting the bill on the suspension calendar.

We’ve prepared a brief form letter for you which makes it really ! easy for you to send a fax to the Speaker of the House, Hon. Nancy Pelosi, and other members of the House Leadership:

This will be an exciting week and we’ll keep you updated, of course.

I’ve attached a press release we’ve sent out yesterday. Feel free to forward it to your local newspapers and TV stations immediately so they can cover the story this week.



The Save the Delta Queen Campaign
For immediate release


Date: April 18, 2008

Vicki Webster (513) 381-3571, e-mail: vjw__at__
Wesley Paulson (240) 593-4090


Supporters Ask House Leadership to Save the Delta Queen

WASHINGTON ? The Save the Delta Queen Campaign has asked for help from House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, and Majority Whip James Clyburn. This afternoon, Wesley Paulson a key member of the grassroots movement, delivered petitions signed by more than 5,000 supporters. The petitions are being accompanied by a stream of phone calls, faxes, and email messages urging the Leadership to let the whole House of Representatives vote on pending legislation that will allow the boat to remain in operation.

The Delta Queen is the last traditional steamboat carrying overnight passengers on America?s inland waterways. For that reason she has been designated a National Historic Landmark. In 1966, she was inadvertently caught in the technical provisions of the Safety at Sea Act?a piece of legislation that was intended to cover ocean-going ships, not riverboats. Recognizing the difference between boats that oper! ate on r ivers, within yards of the shore, and ships that sail the high seas, Congress established an exemption for the Delta Queen in 1968. Since then, the exemption has been renewed nine times, in virtually every case by near-unanimous votes in both the House and the Senate.

Without congressional action, the current exemption will expire on November 1, 2008. Bipartisan legislation to extend the exemption, H.R. 3852, was introduced by Congressman Steve Chabot (R-OH) on October 16, 2007. Currently it has 29 cosponsors. The bill remains in the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure because Committee Chairman James Oberstar of Minnesota refuses to release it to the floor.

In speaking of the effort to save the boat, Congressman Chabot said, ?The Delta Queen is an experience you can?t get in a museum or from the history books?you have to live it and it?s worth preserving. I know that the American people do not want this national treasure to be forced ashore and Congress needs to act before an important chapter in our nation?s history is closed.?

Congressmen William Lacy Clay (D-MO), one of the bill?s original cosponsors, had this to say: ?The Delta Queen is more than an irreplaceable historic vessel, it is also a symbol of the bold American spirit that had the courage to tame the continent and make us one nation, from sea to shining sea. This is the right thing to do for the Delta Queen. And it?s the right thing to do for future g! eneratio ns of Americans and international visitors who deserve the chance to travel on this magnificent vessel.?

form letters: House Leadership, Veterans

Apr 9, 2008

Let’s continue asking for support, let’s continue to make our cause public!

At this time we’re requesting support from

a) the House Leadership to put the exemption bill for the Delta Queen in the suspension calendar (click for details),

b) Veterans and veteran’s organizations: the Delta Queen has served in this war in the San Francisco Bay.

Please, send letters, faxes to these people requesting their support and action to save the Delta Queen.

Here are template letters for your inspiration when writing your letters:

The Hon. Nancy Pelosi
Speaker, United States House of Representatives

Via Fax number: (202) 225-4188
or email/web form:

H.R. 3852: Steamboat Delta Queen’s exemption from the Safety of Life at Sea Act

Dear Madam Speaker:

I am writing to request that you take H.R. 3852 out of the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure and send it directly to the House floor as part of the suspension calendar. For the past 40 years, Congress has voted to extend the Delta Queen’s exemption — in almost every case by near-unanimous margins, as befits what always has been, and should remain, a bi-partisan issue: namely the saving of a literally unique and quintessentially American treasure.

Respectfully yours,





One of you needs your help immediately.  The last authentic steam powered stern wheeled overnight passenger vessel on our inland rivers and a veteran of World War II is being threatened, the Legendary Lady, The DELTA QUEEN.  We know there are many important issues in our lives and in our country today.  But we can’t ignore history. 

The DELTA QUEEN started her career in 1927 running between San Francisco and Sacramento, with her sister boat, the DELTA KING.  They were both drafted in 1940 to serve the United States Navy first as a floating barracks and then transporting troops from San Francisco to troop ships waiting to depart for the Pacific war theatre.  They were also there when those troops came back home after their long hard battles.

The DELTA KING has already been retired to Sacramento, stripped of her machinery, serving as a floating hotel.  Luckily the owners of the DELTA QUEEN had the foresight to procure that machinery and it has been available to keep the DELTA QUEEN running as our last authentic overnight steamboat today.  She is magical and deserves to be saved.

In order to make this happen she requires an exemption from Congress.  Representative Steve Chabot of Ohio has introduced HR Bill # 3852.  Possibly very soon the Committee on Rules will be asked to determine if he can attach that Bill to the Coast Guard Reauthorization Bill # 2830. 

What can you do to help?

1) Rally your members to contact the Committee on Rules to allow HR 3852 be allowed to be attached to Bill #2830 while on the house floor.

2) Rally your members to contact their Representatives and Senators asking for their support in the exemption for the DELTA QUEEN.

3) Adopt the Resolution at all levels of your organization.

4) Circulate the petition.

5) Ask any media contact you have to publish the plight of the DELTA QUEEN.

Once Resolutions have been passed and Petitions have been signed please send to Jo Ann Schoen, P.O. Box 925, Corydon, IN 47112. Jo Ann will collectively forward them to Representatives, Senators, Committees.

PLEASE don’t delay.  Help today.  For further information read the attached documentation.  See,, , will link you to two wonderful videos.  A young college student in Iowa prepared one, about 15 minutes long.  The other is a song newly written as a tribute to the DELTA QUEEN.  You may also contact Vicki Webster by e-mail:  vjw _at_

Thank you so very much for your care and concern.