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Page 87
Suggested Citation:"6 Wearing Life Jackets." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2021. Options for Improving the Safety of DUKW Type Amphibious Vessels. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/26447.
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Suggested Citation:"6 Wearing Life Jackets." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2021. Options for Improving the Safety of DUKW Type Amphibious Vessels. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/26447.
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Suggested Citation:"6 Wearing Life Jackets." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2021. Options for Improving the Safety of DUKW Type Amphibious Vessels. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/26447.
×
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Suggested Citation:"6 Wearing Life Jackets." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2021. Options for Improving the Safety of DUKW Type Amphibious Vessels. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/26447.
×
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Page 91
Suggested Citation:"6 Wearing Life Jackets." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2021. Options for Improving the Safety of DUKW Type Amphibious Vessels. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/26447.
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Suggested Citation:"6 Wearing Life Jackets." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2021. Options for Improving the Safety of DUKW Type Amphibious Vessels. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/26447.
×
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Page 93
Suggested Citation:"6 Wearing Life Jackets." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2021. Options for Improving the Safety of DUKW Type Amphibious Vessels. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/26447.
×
Page93
Page 94
Suggested Citation:"6 Wearing Life Jackets." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2021. Options for Improving the Safety of DUKW Type Amphibious Vessels. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/26447.
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Page94

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87 Life jackets are the primary means to keep persons afloat after they have entered the water, particularly for persons unable to swim. All small passenger vessels operated under United States Coast Guard (USCG) juris- diction are required to have USCG-approved Type I life jackets equal to the number and types of persons, adults and children, expected on board. Life jackets are a key tool to increasing the survivability of persons on board, but only if they are actually worn or successfully donned during an emergency. The difficulties passengers have accessing and donning life jackets and then escaping a DUKW with a canopy are discussed in Chapter 5. The analysis in this chapter assumes that canopies have either been removed or that the hazard they pose has been successfully mitigated. This chapter examines whether passengers should be required to wear life jackets during the waterborne portion of trips. The chapter also addresses which types of life jackets, Type I, Type II, or Type III, are most appropriate for DUKWs. LIFE JACKETS AND CASUALTY EVENTS As described in Chapter 5, the life jackets on DUKWs have not been very effective at increasing the survivability of DUKW passengers and crew. A few survivors have been able to grab a floating life jacket once already in the water, but for the most part, survivors depended on their own ability to swim or on flotation devices thrown from other boats. In the sinkings of the Miss Majestic and Stretch Duck 7, a number of young children were on board. The adults responsible for them had great difficulty getting life jackets on the children, let alone themselves, before ending up in the water. 6 Wearing Life Jackets

88 OPTIONS FOR IMPROVING THE SAFETY OF DUKW TYPE AMPHIBIOUS VESSELS In the sinking of the Wacker Quacker 1, the reserve buoyancy gave passengers a little more time to escape the vessel. Most still ended up in the water without having donned life jackets. In the panic to escape the fire on the Cleopatra, a majority of the passengers left the boat with a buoyancy aid, but few had donned them properly. A child, age 4, was among those who ended up in the water without a buoyancy aid. The United Kingdom’s Marine Accident Investigation Branch (MAIB) noted that if the crew of the Cleopatra had taken the time to help disperse the life jackets and assist passengers in donning them, many passengers may not have escaped the vessel in time.1 REGULATIONS AND NVIC 1-01 Subchapter T specifies the number and types of life jackets that must be on board small passenger vessels. As per 46 CFR 180, one adult life jacket must be provided for each person on the vessel. The number of child-sized life jackets must equal either 10 percent of the total number of persons on board or the number of children on board, whichever is greater. Life jackets must be stowed in convenient places distributed throughout the passenger space and be readily available. If practicable, the method of stowing should allow the life jackets to float free if submerged. For the type of life jacket, Subchapter T regulations are a “one-size- fits-all” mandate for all boats and all areas of commercial operation. In accordance with 46 CFR 180.72(a), only Type I life jackets meet regulatory requirements for use in an emergency on any commercial vessel, including DUKWs. Box 6-1 covers the USCG definitions of Types I, II, and III life jackets. Currently, Types II and III are only approved for recreational use and general boating activities. Type I life jackets are bulky and uncomfortable, but they will turn most unconscious wearers face up in the water. Type II life jackets will turn some unconscious persons face up, and they have less buoyancy than Type I life jackets. Type III life jackets are designed to be comfortable to wear while in a boat but will not keep an unconscious person face up in the water. The regulations on means of escape also affect accessing and don- ning life jackets. As described in Chapter 2, because the primary means of escape is over the side, Navigation and Vessel Inspection Circular 1-01 (NVIC 1-01) guidelines on aisle width and passenger seating allow more cramped conditions. In addition to the small space, the number of personnel and their responsibilities, as described in Chapter 7, also affect the avail- ability of crew members to assist passengers with life jackets. During the passenger safety orientation (46 CFR 185.506), the master should include the following information about life jackets: their location, 1 MAIB, 2014, Very Serious Marine Casualty Report NO 32/2014, December.

WEARING LIFE JACKETS 89 BOX 6-1 Types of Life Jackets as Defined by USCG TYPE I PFDS/OFF-SHORE LIFE JACKETS: Best for all waters, open ocean, rough seas, or remote water, where rescue may be slow coming. Abandon-ship life jacket for commercial vessels and all vessels carrying passengers for hire: • Inherently Buoyant Type I PFDs (personal flotation device) - SOLAS Service • Inherently Buoyant Type I PFDs - U.S. Service • Inflatable Type I PFDs - SOLAS and Domestic • Hybrid Type I PFDs - U.S. Service TYPE II PFDS/NEAR-SHORE BUOYANT VESTS: For general boating activities. Good for calm, inland waters, or where there is a good chance for fast rescue. • Inherently Buoyant Type II PFDs • Inflatable Type II PFDs • Hybrid Type II PFDs TYPE III PFDS/FLOTATION AIDS: For general boating or the specialized activity that is marked on the device such as water skiing, hunting, fishing, canoeing, kayaking, and others. Good for calm, inland waters, or where there is a good chance for fast rescue. Designed so that wearing it will complement your boating activities: • Inherently Buoyant Type III PFDs • Inflatable Type III PFDs • Hybrid Type III PFDs NOTE: USCG’s PFD website includes the following: “The Coast Guard is working with the PFD community to revise the classification and labeling of PFDs.” SOURCE: USCG, “PFD Selection, Use, Wear, and Care: Recreational Boating PFD Selec- tion.” https://www.dco.uscg.mil/CG-ENG-4/PFDSel. the proper method of donning and adjusting via a demonstration, the loca tion of instruction placards, and the times when all passengers will be required to don life jackets because of hazardous conditions or as directed by the master. Training for abandoning ship and man overboard is also to cover the donning of life jackets (46 CFR 185.520–524). The drills are to be conducted as if the emergency actually existed. Committee interviews with DUKW owners and operators identified no violations to Subchapter T regulations or the NVIC 1-01 guidelines. The number and type of life jackets aboard may differ by tour operator (i.e.,

90 OPTIONS FOR IMPROVING THE SAFETY OF DUKW TYPE AMPHIBIOUS VESSELS numbers of child versus adult life jackets), but they meet the requirements of the current regulations. In all cases, the life jackets were locally available and distributed throughout the accommodation space for ease of access for all passengers. All owners and operators interviewed identified that they stored life jackets in one of two places: under the seats or directly above the seats. Passengers receive instructions on the location and donning of jackets in emergency situations. INVESTIGATIONS AND STUDIES According to USCG’s Recreational Boating Statistics for 2019, where the cause of death was known, 79 percent of fatal boating accident victims drowned. Of those drowning victims, 86 percent were not wearing a life jacket.2 Although DUKWs are not recreational boats, passengers on these small touring vessels have an experience, including the purpose of the trip, similar to what they would have on recreational boats. Studies and their recommendations for life jackets on both recreational boats and small passenger vessels are likely to be applicable to DUKWs. In addition to the regulations in Ireland requiring that DUKW passen- gers wear life jackets during the waterborne parts of trips, recommendations coming out of the United Kingdom also favor wearing life jackets. Following the fire on the Cleopatra, the Thames Passenger Boat Investigation Com- mittee (London Assembly) issued a recommendation that London Duck Tours “should consider whether there is a case for passengers to wear life jackets as a matter of course on the water part of the tour.” The MAIB, in its report on the Cleopatra and Wacker Quacker 1, also recommended that “consideration [be] given to requiring all passengers to wear PFDs whenever DUKWs are waterborne.”3 There is recognition in Canada and the United States that wearing life jackets significantly mitigates risks during recreational boating. In 2011, the National Boating Safety Advisory Council recommended that USCG initiate a future regulatory project to pursue requirements that recreational boaters wear life jackets.4 Transport Canada’s public information for recreational boating also strongly encourages the wearing of life jackets, noting, “It won’t work, if you don’t wear it!” and “Never underestimate how much 2 USCG, 2020, “2019 Recreational Boating Statistics,” June 4. https://www.uscgboating. org/library/accident-statistics/Recreational-Boating-Statistics-2019.pdf. 3 MAIB, 2014, Very Serious Marine Casualty Report NO 32/2014, December. https://assets. publishing.service.gov.uk/media/54c1722240f0b6158d00002b/MAIBReport_32-2014.pdf. 4 National Boating Safety Advisory Council, April 1–2, 2011, Arlington, Virginia, Resolution Number 2011-87-01 Appropriate Regulations for Life Jacket Wear by Recreational Boaters. https://homeport.uscg.mil/Lists/Content/Attachments/459/NBSAC%202011-87-01%20-%20 Signed_2.pdf.

WEARING LIFE JACKETS 91 protection a flotation device can give you. It is called lifesaving equipment for a reason.”5 Research on life jackets makes it clear that donning life jackets dur- ing an emergency is a recipe for chaos, but getting passengers to wear life jackets during a pleasure tour requires mandatory regulations. An exer- cise in Rhode Island that challenged boaters to locate and don their life jackets in under 30 seconds was described as “almost comical as people scrambled around looking for their life jackets. In many instances, the test ended with adults trying to put on children’s life jackets or finding no life jackets at all.”6 Research on life jacket use among adult recreational boaters found that “participants repeatedly emphasized that making life jacket use mandatory through legislation and enforcement would be the only way to get more people to use them.” The study did find, however, that boaters were open to life jacket options deemed more comfortable for longer-term wear.7 The committee identified a similar concern about mandatory life jacket wearing in its conversations with DUKW owners and operators. They are reluctant to require the wearing of life jackets for the waterborne parts of their trips unless backed up by an official regulatory body such as USCG. Owners and operators anticipate coming into conflict with their cus tomers over comfort or bias against life jackets. They also are concerned that wearing life jackets would lead customers to assume that riding DUKWs is unsafe. A regulation requiring the wearing of life jackets, however, would be similar to regulations requiring seat belts in motor vehicles or helmets for motorcycles. WEARING LIFE JACKETS WHEN WATERBORNE Wearing life jackets during the waterborne parts of a DUKW tour will in- crease the survivability of passengers during casualty events, assuming that the problems with egress through a canopy and its side windows can be satisfactorily resolved. Wearing a life jacket mitigates risk of fatalities in a sudden event such as a capsizing, swamping, or collision. 5 See https://tc.canada.ca/en/marine-transportation/getting-started-safe-boating/choosing- lifejackets-personal-flotation-devices-pfds. 6 Groff, P., and J. Ghadiali, 2003, “Will It Float? Mandatory PFD Wear Legislation: A Background Research Paper prepared for the Canadian Safe Boating Council,” SMARTRISK Toronto, Ontario, Canada. https://www.seattlechildrens.org/pdf/will-it-float-mandatory-PFD- wear-legislation-in-canada.pdf. 7 Quistberg, D. A., E. Bennett, L. Quan, and B. E. Ebel, 2014, Low life jacket use among adult recreational boaters: A qualitative study of risk perception and behavior factors. Accident Analysis and Prevention 62:276–284. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/ PMC3919505.

92 OPTIONS FOR IMPROVING THE SAFETY OF DUKW TYPE AMPHIBIOUS VESSELS USCG’s current approach, which leaves it to passengers to locate and don life jackets after an incident, is based on two assumptions that may not be applicable to DUKW passengers. The first assumption is that there will be enough time during an emergency for all passengers to locate and don life jackets. For certain types of DUKWs, the time to safely escape during a fire or flood may be only a few minutes or even less. Because DUKWs are family-oriented tourist activities, passengers often include children and others who may need assistance retrieving and donning a life jacket. Moreover, the reality is that some of the passengers and crew will likely be operat ing in a state of shock—“fog” or “confusion”—when an event occurs. The time it takes for the diverse types of passengers to locate and don life jackets and escape safely will vary widely. The second faulty assumption is that people are capable of properly donning a life jacket once in the water; that persons will escape the vessel with life jackets in hand, instead of properly donned; or that they will be pulled under the water and will locate a floating life jacket once they swim to the surface. Instead of assuming success, experience has shown that don- ning life jackets once overboard is nearly impossible. Wind, waves, weather, and temperature conditions will all make it extremely difficult for someone to maneuver themselves into an unfamiliar life jacket while also needing to swim or tread water. Wearing life jackets would also allow the crew to assist passengers, ensuring that the life jackets have been properly donned before embarking on the waterborne part of the trip. Because of the narrow aisle widths, it is often not practical for the master or a crew member to assist passengers with life jackets once the vessel is under way. As discussed in Chapter 7, DUWKs are often operated by a one-person crew who has many responsi- bilities during an emergency. In all the casualties reviewed, passengers have had to assist (or attempt to assist) other passengers with life jackets. TYPE III LIFE JACKETS Allowing the use Type III life jackets instead of Type I life jackets on DUKWs holds promise as a means to encourage the wearing and ease the donning of life jackets. Exclusively relying on Type I life jackets on DUKWs has disadvantages. They are bulky, making them uncomfortable to wear, and donning them is not intuitive, especially for those who rarely travel on a commercial vessel. When stowed on board, their bulk takes up space in an already cramped passenger compartment. Their bulk also complicates attempts by the crew or other passengers to walk the narrow aisle of a typical DUKW to assist with their distribution and donning.

WEARING LIFE JACKETS 93 Although Type III life jackets do not keep an unconscious person face up, the operating areas for DUKWs are normally close to shore. Rescue by other boats or those on shore typically happens quickly for those who reach the water’s surface. Type III life jackets are also more likely to be familiar to passengers who are recreational boaters. Offering DUKW operators the flexibility of using Type I or Type III life jackets would allow them to choose the life jacket type that best fits their circumstances and may encourage passengers to wear them during the tour. SUMMARY Meeting Subchapter T regulations for the number and placement of Type I life jackets was not found to be an issue on DUKWs. However, the com- mittee believes that the current policy allowing life jackets to be donned only in an emergency is based on faulty assumptions about the likelihood of successfully donning life jackets either on the boat or once in the water. Especially for higher risk operations, the best way to ensure the surviv- ability of passengers, once the canopy issue has been successfully resolved, is to require the wearing of life jackets. Given the typical operating area of DUKWs, Type III life jackets may be an appropriate substitute for Type I life jackets, if future investigations show that persons are more likely to wear them.

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To ensure the safety of passengers and crew on DUKWs — amphibious vehicles also referred to as duck boats — the United States Coast Guard (USCG) should issue a range of new guidelines and requirements.

TRB’s Special Report 342: Options for Improving the Safety of DUKW Type Amphibious Vessels recommends that the USCG use a consistent risk-assessment methodology and update its regulations and enforcement practices in a way that reflects the variable levels of risk to passengers and crew.

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