On Monday, April 3rd, by a vote of 85-12, the United States Senate passed legislation which could grant the historic Delta Queen a return to cruising America’s inland waterways. On January 10th, Missouri Senator Claire McCaskill introduced Senate Bill 89, legislation renewing the Delta Queen’s Congressional exemption from the Safety of Life at Sea Act (SOLAS, Public Law 89-777), a measure which restricts vessels with a wooden superstructure from providing overnight passenger service to more than 50 passengers. Co-sponsored by Louisiana Senator Bill Cassidy, S. 89 requires that the vessel’s “combustible materials” be reduced annually by 10% and replaced with non-flammable materials.
Constructed in 1926, the Delta Queen is a National Historic Landmark and the nation’s oldest passenger steamboat that speaks to our nation’s 200 year tradition of cargo and passenger steamboat transportation. The National Trust believes that return of the Delta Queen to overnight passenger cruising will help ensure the long term protection of what can only be described as the last vestige of a uniquely American maritime past. As such, the National Trust fully endorses the passage of S. 89 and requests the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee consider companion legislation, HR 619.