Delta Queen one step closer to returning to service

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The following is the text of a news release from Sen. Claire McCaskill:

(WASHINGTON) — The historic 1920s Delta Queen riverboat is one step closer to a return to Missouri after legislation from U.S. Sens. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., and Roy Blunt, R-Mo., was approved Tuesday by the Senate Commerce Committee. The bill now heads to the full Senate for approval.

“We’re one step closer to finally bringing the Delta Queen home to the St. Louis region where she belongs,” McCaskill said. “Returning this historic steamboat to Missouri so tourists up and down the river can experience her rich history means both the restoration of an historic landmark and an infusion of economic expansion and jobs to Jefferson County.”

“The Delta Queen is an important part of our nation’s history, and bringing this national treasure back into operation will support economic growth and create good-paying jobs,” Blunt said. “I’m proud that this historic riverboat is one step closer towards docking in Kimmswick and once again cruising the Mississippi River.”

According to the Jefferson County Economic Development Corp., the St. Louis region will experience a significant economic impact from Delta Queen, creating more than 170 jobs locally and bringing in more than $36.4 million to the St. Louis region annually. It is expected that Delta Queen will begin and end a number of its cruises each year in Kimmswick and will visit more than 80 other ports in the United States.

Built in the 1920s, Delta Queen is an historic, wooden American steamboat that carried dignitaries (including three U.S. presidents) and thousands of other passengers through the tributaries of the Mississippi River. The boat also served as a naval ship during World War II, and is now designated as a United States National Historic Landmark.

Beginning in 1966, Delta Queen was exempted from a law passed by Congress regulating passenger vessels carrying 50 or more passengers overnight on domestic U.S. waters. That exemption expired in 2008. This legislation would restore the long-running exemption and require Delta Queen, which is fully compliant with all other Coast Guard safety regulations, to annually modify at least 10 percent of the wooden portions of the vessel’s superstructure to comply with the federal safety law requirements.

By Professional Mariner Staff