JUST IN: Vessel used by DivaDuck boat tour is ‘unsinkable,’ owner says

July 20, 2018
DivaDuck splashes into the water at Currie Park in West Palm Beach for a sightseeing tour. Courtesy photo

Officials with a West Palm Beach-based company that provides amphibious boat tours said a tragedy that left 17 people dead in Missouri on Thursday could not happen here.

That’s because the vessel — a Hydra Terra — used by DivaDuck Amphibious Tours is deemed unsinkable, according to a statement released by company owner Paul Tucker.

“There are a variety of amphibious tours around the country that are called ‘Ducks,’ but some operators actually use a vehicle that was manufactured for military use for (World War II),” Tucker said in the statement.

“It is a much different ‘Duck’ than the modern vessel we operate.”

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DivaDuck, in operation for 16 years and operated out of an office on Rosemary Avenue in CityPlace, uses flotation foam on its boat approved by the U.S. Coast Guard and guaranteed by its manufacturer as unsinkable.

Only 14 people survived after the Ride the Ducks Branson boat went down in stormy weather Thursday evening in a southwestern Missouri lake. The victims ranged in age from 1 to 70.

“Even though our vessel has been deemed unsinkable, we never take chances with weather,” Tucker said. “If the captain or support staff sees bad weather approaching, we will delay the tour until the bad weather passes.”

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Tucker said captains have the authority to cancel a tour if bad weather does not clear.

Vessels used in amphibious tours are regulated and inspected annually by the Coast Guard.

A city spokesperson for West Palm Beach said she was not aware of any complaints filed against the local duck boat operation.

Tucker said the Coast Guard licenses captains employed by DivaDuck, which navigate the Intracoastal Waterway.

The tour operator connected to Thursday’s incident in Missouri is not affiliated with DivaDuck, Tucker said.