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Duck Boats

It is back in WW-II when duck boats were born. The engineers from General Motors and Sparkman & Stephens modified a six-wheel-drive of the 2-ton capacity trucks that were used by the American army. The vehicles were used to transport goods and troops over water and land. At that time it was done to meet demands of combat but now in Philadelphia the vehicles are further modified and used for excursion trips accommodating several dozen of passengers at a time and popular as tourist crafts in marine environments.

The first “duck tour” company started in 1946 in Wisconsin Dells, Wisconsin. This was Flath’s but is still it in operation as “Original Wisconsin Ducks”. The same family continues to operate Dells Army Ducks in Wisconsin Dells Area. However, Philadelphia becomes a popular place to offer duck rides to visiting groups and tourists. The rides take the visitors through the historic square mile in USA and also through Philadelphia’s famous museum district. Ride The Ducks are among the famous tour operators affording the passengers an 80-minute tour that strangely mixes music, fun and history into a quite interactive sightseeing experience. Ride The Ducks is altogether a fun, quite engaging and very informative tour in Philadelphia. Their “Ride The Ducks” vehicle (called amphibian) actually runs on land and then enters the river. The vehicle is all safe and well engineered ensuring passenger safety and non-stop travel exclusively built for excursion trips. These vehicles are equipped with ground and marine safety features.

Ride The Duck has a traceable history, starting from 1977 in Branson. Then in 1994 they agreed to provide vehicles to another group named “Boston Duck Tours” and the business relationship continues till date. The operation expands in Seattle in 1997 as “The Ducks of Seattle”, and this relationship also survives till date as well. Another step was taken in 1999 when the vehicles were improved by stretching them and adding various improvements in traditional and the classic WWII DUKW. This was a technical breakthrough well received in the market. Later in 2003, Ride The Ducks start operations in Philadelphia as well as Stone Mountain Park (GA). A year later in 2004, Herschend Family Entertainment acquired Ride The Ducks International. In 2006 Amphibious Vehicle Manufacturing received USCG approval patenting “Truck Duck,” a altogether new design that was based on their almost 30 years’ operations. 2008 sees Ride The Ducks launching operations in Newport, KY across the river from Cincinnati. Legal status of Ride The Ducks venture is declared as an independent company in 2012. In year 2014 they expanded their operations in Guam too. This way Ride The Duck are a fully integrated company having geographically dispersed operation locations. Enjoying with ‘Ride The Ducks’ is like having more than a excursion and an adventure around Philadelphia. People from all ages and types enjoy being there.

There is probably, no vehicle type that did not face an accident or not involved in fatal incidents. While Philadelphia is generally famous for duck rides, the place has several fatal incidents recorded.

On July 7, 2010, a regulated modern Ride the Ducks duck boat which was based on the original design, had to be disabled due to an engine fire and then run over by a barge rowing in Delaware River. Investigators found that operator of the tug that was pushing the barge was busy on his cell phone. The captain of “Ride The Ducks” made several calls to the tug asking to change its course much before the accident. Other vessels in that area also noted those calls but the tug did not respond and continued its way forward. Several passengers as well as two crew members escaped but two passengers, a man and a girl, who were part of a visiting group from Hungry were killed. National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) had determined that the cause of the accident was the irresponsible behavior of Tugboat mate’s inattention towards his duties. NTSB sentenced him to 366 days prison.

Another fatal incident happened in Philadelphia on May 8, 2015, involving a “Ride the Ducks” boat. The boat struck and killed a lady while crossing the street. Investigations were started and found that the woman was crossing the street but she was attending her handheld tablet device. She walked against the red light as well. On the other hand the incident happened because of a blind spot in the froncenter of the boat. Investigations however, continue when the court was told that United States Coast Guards inspect these vehicles annually and by the Department of Transportation every six months. Further the record is also frequently audited by both offices. The attorney for the deceased lady who was run over by this tour vehicle had his objections against these vehicles. He contended that these vehicles are 1940s-type vehicles and they are no more worthy to travel with passengers. He further said these vehicles that both groups operate are not fit for use on land nor water. These vehicles date back to World War II and are 11 feet wide and 30 feet long having several blind spots for the driver.