Stretch Duck 7: Key NTSB findings
• Ride the Ducks did not effectively use all available weather information to monitor the approaching severe weather and assess the risk to its waterborne operations.
• Ride the Ducks should have suspended waterborne operations for Stretch Duck 7 and the other last tours of the day in anticipation of imminent severe weather.
• Ride the Ducks should have had specific guidance for the operations team to determine when to suspend waterborne operations due to approaching severe weather (go/no-go policy).
• Initial water ingress on Stretch Duck 7 was likely from waves rolling over the air intake hatch’s spring-loaded damper and intermittently opening it, thereby allowing water into the engine compartment.
• The rapid sinking resulted from uncontrolled progressive flooding due to a lack of hull subdivision.
• Had the Coast Guard implemented Safety Recommendation M-02-1 to require sufficient reserve buoyancy through passive means, Stretch Duck 7 likely would not have sunk.
• Stretch Duck 54 was able to exit the lake while exposed to the same conditions as Stretch Duck 7 due to the increased freeboard, greater reserve buoyancy and a securable bow hatch.
• When Stretch Duck 7 sank, the closed starboard-side curtain impeded egress and likely resulted in additional fatalities.
• Donning life jackets on Stretch Duck 7 while fitted with an overhead canopy would have created an impediment to escape and increased the risk of passengers being trapped.