Last updated: 02:27 PM ET, Fri July 10 2015

Senators Introduce Bill to Let Delta Queen Sail Again

Cruise Line & Cruise Ship | Theresa Norton | July 10, 2015

Senators Introduce Bill to Let Delta Queen Sail Again

PHOTO: Tyler Tinsley posted this Facebook picture of the Delta Queen sailing by Paducah, Ky., on its way to Houma, La., in late March.

Two senators from Ohio have introduced a bill that would let the historic Delta Queen riverboat return to overnight passenger service. The bill is a companion to legislation introduced in the U.S. House in March by Rep. Steve Chabot, another lawmarker from Ohio.

U.S. Senators Rob Portman (R-Ohio) and Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) sponsored the senate bill with co-sponsors from other states in the region, including Sen. Claire McCaskill from Missouri, John Boozman and Tom Cotton from Arkansas, and David Vitter from Louisiana.

“The Delta Queen is a true Ohio treasure and an important part of the Queen City’s history. I remember being on the Delta Queen as a boy and am pleased to introduce this measure to keep it afloat for all Cincinnatians,” Portman said. “We are working to make sure the vessel can get back in business. It represents a big part of our history, and will help promote recreational activities and economic opportunity along the Ohio River.”

The 1966 Safety at Sea law prohibits wooden ships of a certain size — like the Delta Queen — from carrying passengers on overnight trips. This legislation would require new safety requirements and grant a 15-year exemption to this rule, which was standard practice until 2008.

The 1927-built Delta Queen, which is designated a National Historic Landmark, is undergoing renovations in Houma, La., by a group led by Cornel J. Martin, president and CEO of the recently reborn Delta Queen Steamboat Co. His partners, Randy and Leah Ann Ingram, operated the Delta Queen as a permanently moored hotel in Chattanooga, Tenn.

They estimate the ship needs about $5 million in repairs before it could return to overnight cruising, which they hope will happen by summer 2016.

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