FRANKFORT, Ky. (9/26/13) – U.S. Rep. Ed Whitfield (KY-01), Chairman of the House Subcommittee on Energy and Power, tonight announced the passage of H.R. 1961, which allows the historic Delta Queen steamboat to once again serve as a passenger vessel. It has not served in this capacity since 2008, when a Congressional exemption allowing the boat to serve as a passenger vessel carrying more than 50 people expired.
“The Delta Queen is a piece of American history that Kentuckians have enjoyed for many years,” stated Whitfield. “I am excited that the House of Representatives is taking steps so that we can once again be hearing that nostalgic sound of the Delta Queen’s steam whistle as it carries passengers up and down the Ohio River passing many of our historic communities.”
Current federal law requires passenger vessels with overnight accommodations for 50 or more passengers to be constructed of fire-retardant materials like steel or aluminum. However, the law included an exemption for the Delta Queen, which has a wooden substructure, and other vessels in operation before 1968 to continue operating in internal waters. Because the Delta Queen has a wooden superstructure, this exemption, which expired in 2008, was needed in order for the vessel to be permitted to operate. H.R. 1961 extends the exemption through October 31, 2028.
The Delta Queen, a paddle wheel riverboat built in 1926, is only vessel that qualifies for the exemption under H.R. 1961. It has not operated as a passenger vessel since 2008. The legislation will now be sent to the Senate for consideration.
Information provided by Chris Pack
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