IN THE SENATE OF THE UNITED STATES
April 4, 2019
Mr. Hawley introduced the following bill; which was read twice and referred to the Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation
To implement recommendations related to the safety of amphibious passenger vessels, and for other purposes.
This Act may be cited as the
Duck Boat Safety Enhancement Act of 2019.
Safety requirements for amphibious passenger vessels
Remaining afloat and upright in the event of flooding
Not later than 180 days after the date of the enactment of this Act, the Commandant of the Coast Guard shall prescribe in regulations that operators of amphibious passenger vessels provide reserve buoyancy for such vessels through passive means, including watertight compartmentalization, built-in flotation, or such other means as the Commandant shall specify in the regulations, in order to ensure that such vessels remain afloat and upright in the event of flooding, including when carrying a full complement of passengers and crew.
Commencing as of the date the regulations required by paragraph (1) are prescribed, the Commandant of the Coast Guard shall require that operators of amphibious passenger vessels that are not in compliance with the requirements in the regulations do the following:
Remove the canopies of such vessels for waterborne operations, or install in such vessels a Coast Guard-approved canopy that does not restrict either horizontal or vertical escape by passengers in the event of flooding or sinking.
If the canopy is removed from any such vessel pursuant to subparagraph (A), require that all passengers don a Coast Guard type-approved personal flotation device before the onset of waterborne operations of such vessel.
Reengineer such vessels to permanently close all unnecessary access plugs and to reduce all through-hull penetrations to the minimum number and size necessary for operation.
Install in such vessels independently powered electric bilge pumps that are capable of dewatering such vessels at the volume of the largest remaining penetration in order to supplement either an operable Higgins pump or a dewatering pump of equivalent or greater capacity.
Install in such vessels not fewer than four independently powered bilge alarms.
Inspect any such vessel in water after each time a through-hull penetration of such vessel has been removed or uncovered.
Verify the watertight integrity of any such vessel in the water at the outset of each waterborne departure of such vessel.
Prohibition on operation of noncompliant vessels
The following amphibious passenger vessels may not operate on United States waterways:
Commencing as of the date the regulations required by paragraph (1) are prescribed, any amphibious passenger vessel whose configuration or operation does not comply with the requirements in paragraph (2).
Commencing as of the date specified by the Commandant of the Coast Guard pursuant to subsection (d), any amphibious passenger vessel whose configuration or operation does not comply with the requirements in the regulations under paragraph (1).
Severe weather emergency preparedness
Not later than 180 days after the date of the enactment of this Act, the Commandant of the Coast Guard shall prescribe in regulations—
the limiting environmental conditions, such as weather, in which amphibious passenger vessels may safely operate, and a requirement that such limiting conditions be described in the certificate of inspection of each amphibious passenger vessel;
that an operator of an amphibious passenger vessel—
check the National Weather Service forecast before getting underway and periodically while underway; and
in the case of a watch or warning issued for wind speeds exceeding the wind speed equivalent used to certify the stability of an amphibious passenger vessel, proceed to the nearest harbor or safe refuge; and
that an amphibious passenger vessel certified to operate on partially protected waters have a weather monitor radio receiver at the operator station that may be automatically activated by the warning alarm device of the National Weather Service.
Additional safety measures
Not later than 180 days after the date of the enactment of this Act, the Commandant of the Coast Guard shall prescribe in regulations that—
operators of amphibious passenger vessels inform passengers that seat belts may not be worn during waterborne operations; and
before the commencement of waterborne operations, a crew member visually check that each passenger has unbuckled his or her seatbelt.
Deadline for compliance
The regulations required by subsections (a) through (c) shall require compliance with the requirements in the regulations by operators of amphibious passenger vessels by such date, not later than 2 years after the date of the enactment of this Act, as the Commandant shall specify in the regulations.