Delta Queen deserves her river freedom

Published 12:01am Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Ask any Southern gentleman and he’ll likely confirm that a good woman is worth a fight.

Such a fight is needed as the Delta Queen steamboat struggles to regain her ability to carry on a long-time Mississippi River tradition.

Many locals may recall that the Delta Queen, a passenger vessel commissioned in 1927, was forced out of daily river cruises and into permanent dock in 2008.

The reason was a simple, but important, piece of legislation that provided the Delta Queen a special exemption to a 1960 law aimed at requiring sea-bound vessels be constructed of fire-retardant materials. The Delta Queen was originally constructed of a great deal of wood — which is obviously flammable — but in later years much of it had been replaced with steel.

For decades congress granted an exemption to the Delta Queen.

Logically, the steamboat is rarely more than a short distance from the riverbank, should something ever happen, thus minimizing the risk.

A bill providing an exemption to the boat died last fall, but new hope may be just around the corner. U.S. senators from Mississippi and Louisiana have sponsored a new bill that would again allow the steamboat to operate on the river.

Providing the exemption just makes sense, and we hope Congress acts soon to allow this process to move forward.

Bureaucracy has anchored the Delta Queen long enough. It’s time to fight for her freedom.