The Coast Guard revoked the certificate of inspection of the passenger vessel Willamette Queen Monday after the vessel’s owners failed to conduct a required out-of-water hull examination.
Coast Guard inspectors from Marine Safety Unit Portland have been working with the owner of the vessel for several months to satisfy necessary safety requirements by the mandatory deadlines. The vessel owner will not be permitted to operate the Willamette Queen as an inspected passenger vessel able to carry a large number of people until these requirements are met as a matter of safety.
“The Willamette Queen did not achieve the minimum safety standards required of a Coast Guard certificated passenger vessel,” said Capt. Patrick Ropp, commanding officer for MSU Portland. “This is akin to an airliner taking on passengers that does not meet FAA standards. The Coast Guard is responsible for passenger vessel safety and requires passenger vessels, like the Willamette Queen, to hold a Certificate of Inspection to ensure the safety of all passengers and crew.”
The Willamette Queen is a sternwheeler that operates on the Willamette River and moors at Salem’s Waterfront Park. The vessel was built in 1989 and was certified as a Coast Guard inspected small passenger vessel for the carriage of 101 passengers and eight crewmembers. Because it is constructed of fiberglass and is operated in fresh water, federal safety regulations require an out-of-water drydock inspection every five years. Its last drydock inspection was completed in 2010.
As the agency responsible for commercial vessel safety, the Coast Guard requires vessels engaged in passenger service to be periodically hauled from the water for thorough examination. An out-of-water inspection evaluates structural integrity and seaworthiness of a vessel, and stipulates repairs if damage to the hull is identified.
In-water safety inspections are conducted annually to ensure that vessels adhere to established safety regulations for vessel construction, stability, watertight integrity, fire fighting and passenger safety protection measures. Vessels that meet the stringent Coast Guard requirements are issued a certificate of inspection, which signifies to the public that the vessel is compliant with established safety standards and regulations.