Listen Live

BRANSON, Mo.–Duck boats, like the one on which nine members of an Indiana family died Thursday, should be outlawed, said Daniel Rose, a Navy veteran and maritime law expert. Rose said the design of the amphibious craft was not good to begin with.

“It really should be outlawed. Overall, it’s not a safe vessel,” said Rose, whose is also an attorney with Kreindler & Kreindler, in New York City. He has represented people in accidents involving duck boats and other water craft.

He said the duck boat was invented for use in World War II.

“It was a troop carrier intended to bridge that little gap between a big troop carrier vessel and the shore,” said Rose. “It literally was a dispensable, one-time use design. After the war…there was a lot of surplus and people started buying these boats and using them for different things that they were never intended to, including tour boats.”

Rose compared the design to a bathtub, and said it is especially unstable with a canopy added. He said a duck boat is easily disturbed by another boat’s wake, gale forced winds, or in the case of the one at Table Rock Lake, severe weather.

“They are repeatedly used with passengers, really filled to the brim.”


He said in addition to being top-heavy, the boats also have a propensity to flood easily.

“It ends up being essentially, a death trap, a coffin, because people can’t get out of it,” said Rose. Seventeen people died when severe weather hit Branson, Thursday, including the nine people from one Indiana family.

Rose said he believes money is a big reason the boats haven’t already been outlawed. He said the maritime industry is powerful, and it’s tough for Congress or individual states to make a law against duck boats as tour boats. But, he believes that could be a recommendation when the National Transportation Safety Board finishes their investigation.

“Hopefully when the NTSB looks at this incident in light of all the other ones, the recommendation will be that these vessels should no longer be used as tour guide vessels.”

Until then, it’s up to you whether you ride in one, especially if there are no life jackets supplied, or if the weather looks rough.

“When we buy a ticket, we are counting on that expertise and that knowledge of how to operate that vessel safely and that didn’t happen here,” said Rose.

PHOTO: CNN Newsource/Brad Parks