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 							 Calendar No. 18

115th Congress }					 { REPORT
 1st Session   }                  SENATE                 { 115-5
_______________________________________________________________________

   A BILL TO AMEND TITLE 46, UNITED STATES CODE, TO EXEMPT OLD VESSELS 
   THAT ONLY OPERATE WITHIN INLAND WATERWAYS FROM THE FIRE-RETARDANT 
    MATERIALS REQUIREMENT IF THE OWNERS OF SUCH VESSELS MAKE ANNUAL 
   STRUCTURAL ALTERATIONS TO AT LEAST 10 PERCENT OF THE AREAS OF THE 
 VESSELS THAT ARE NOT CONSTRUCTED OF FIRE-RETARDANT MATERIALS AND FOR 
                             OTHER PURPOSES

                               __________

                              R E P O R T

                                OF THE

           COMMITTEE ON COMMERCE, SCIENCE, AND TRANSPORTATION

                                  ON

                                 S. 89

[GRAPHIC(S) NOT AVAILABLE IN TIFF FORMAT]


                 March 21, 2017.--Ordered to be printed
                 
                 
                              ____________
                              
                              
                    U.S. GOVERNMENT PUBLISHING OFFICE
                              WASHINGTON : 2017
                 
_______________________________________________________________________                 
                 
                
       SENATE COMMITTEE ON COMMERCE, SCIENCE, AND TRANSPORTATION
                     one hundred fifteenth congress
                             first session

                   JOHN THUNE, South Dakota, Chairman
 ROGER F. WICKER, Mississippi         BILL NELSON, Florida
 ROY BLUNT, Missouri                  MARIA CANTWELL, Washington
 TED CRUZ, Texas                      AMY KLOBUCHAR, Minnesota
 DEB FISCHER, Nebraska                RICHARD BLUMENTHAL, Connecticut
 JERRY MORAN, Kansas                  BRIAN SCHATZ, Hawaii
 DAN SULLIVAN, Alaska                 ED MARKEY, Massachusetts
 DEAN HELLER, Nevada                  CORY BOOKER, New Jersey
 JIM INHOFE, Oklahoma                 TOM UDALL, New Mexico
 MIKE LEE, Utah                       GARY PETERS, Michigan
 RON JOHNSON, Wisconsin               TAMMY BALDWIN, Wisconsin
 SHELLEY MOORE CAPITO, West           TAMMY DUCKWORTH, Illinois
    Virginia
 CORY GARDNER, Colorado               MAGGIE HASSAN, New Hampshire
 TODD YOUNG, Indiana                  CATHERINE CORTEZ MASTO, Nevada
                       Nick Rossi, Staff Director
                 Adrian Arnakis, Deputy Staff Director
                    Jason Van Beek, General Counsel
                 Kim Lipsky, Democratic Staff Director
           Christopher Day, Democratic Deputy Staff Director
           
           
____________________________________________________________________________           
           
                                                       Calendar No. 18
                                                       
115th Congress }      				       { Report
                                 SENATE
 1st Session   }                                       { 115-5

======================================================================
 
  A BILL TO AMEND TITLE 46, UNITED STATES CODE, TO EXEMPT OLD VESSELS 
   THAT ONLY OPERATE WITHIN INLAND WATERWAYS FROM THE FIRE-RETARDANT 
    MATERIALS REQUIREMENT IF THE OWNERS OF SUCH VESSELS MAKE ANNUAL 
   STRUCTURAL ALTERATIONS TO AT LEAST 10 PERCENT OF THE AREAS OF THE 
 VESSELS THAT ARE NOT CONSTRUCTED OF FIRE-RETARDANT MATERIALS AND FOR 
                             OTHER PURPOSES

                                _______
                                

                 March 21, 2017.--Ordered to be printed

                                _______
                                

Mr. Thune, from the Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, 
                        submitted the following

                              R E P O R T

                          [To accompany S. 89]

      [Including cost estimate of the Congressional Budget Office]

    The Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, to 
which was referred the bill (S. 89) to amend title 46, United 
States Code, to exempt old vessels that only operate within 
inland waterways from the fire-retardant materials requirement 
if the owners of such vessels make annual structural 
alterations to at least 10 percent of the areas of the vessels 
that are not constructed of fire-retardant materials and for 
other purposes, having considered the same, reports favorably 
thereon without amendment and recommends that the bill do pass.

                          Purpose of the Bill

    The purpose of S. 89 is to amend title 46 of the United 
States Code to exempt old vessels that only operate within 
inland waterways from the fire-retardant materials requirement 
if the owners of such vessels make annual structural 
alterations to at least 10 percent of the areas of the vessels 
that are not constructed of fire-retardant materials.

                          Background and Needs

    The steamer Delta Queen is a 20th century passenger vessel 
with an entirely wooden superstructure.\1\ This superstructure 
was deemed unsafe in 1966 when Congress declared that, ``no 
passenger vessel of the United States . . . shall be granted a 
certificate of inspection . . . unless the vessel is 
constructed of fire-retardant materials.''\2\ Congress 
temporarily delayed the effect of this mandate twice. It was 
initially delayed until 1968. Then, in 1970, Congress again 
temporarily delayed the effect of the mandate, but only for 
those U.S. passenger vessels then operating on the inland 
rivers and only until 1973. In 1973, Congress again temporarily 
delayed the effect of the mandate for the sole benefit of the 
Delta Queen until 1978. Congress continued to delay the effect 
of the mandate for the next three decades.\3\ Then, in 2008, 
the mandate was finally made applicable to the Delta Queen, 
which caused the vessel to cease all operation.\4\ On February 
11, 2009, the Delta Queen was docked at Coolidge Park Landing 
in Chattanooga, Tennessee, where the vessel operated as a 
floating boutique hotel until 2014.\5\
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    \1\Letter from M. Tia Johnson, Assistant Secretary for Legislative 
Affairs for the Department of Homeland Security, to Senator Nelson, 
January 8, 2016.
    \2\46 U.S.C.  3503.
    \3\Letter from M. Tia Johnson, Assistant Secretary for Legislative 
Affairs for the Department of Homeland Security, to Senator Nelson, 
January 8, 2016.
    \4\``Majestic America Line,'' February 2, 2007, at http://
web.archive.org/web/20070202204238/http://
www.majesticamericaline.com:80.
    \5\``Delta Queen departs Chattanooga North Shore'' WRCBtv, March 
22, 2015, at http://www.wrcbtv.com/story/28583164/delta-queen-departs-
chattanooga-north-shore.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    In 2008, a traveling inspector from the Coast Guard 
inspected the Delta Queen and noted ``evidence of a lack of 
both short- and long-term maintenance that adversely impacts 
the safety of the vessel . . . all of which has to do with 
unintended or excess but unnecessary fire load.''\6\ The fire 
load of the vessel is concentrated in the lower decks. The most 
likely place for a fire to start would be the almost 100 year 
old boilers. The boilers are not entirely contained within the 
steel hull and the tops of the boilers are open directly to the 
aged and dry wood superstructure of the vessel.\7\ Given that 
the vessel currently lacks thermal and structural boundaries, a 
fire within any part of the vessel could quickly spread 
horizontally and vertically. In a worst-case scenario, a fire 
would begin in the boilers, overwhelm the vessel's fire 
suppression system, and spread throughout the whole of the 
lower deck and into the sleeping quarters directly above the 
lower deck. If such a fire were to happen, the planned 
evacuation route would be made irrelevant because the only exit 
in the present configuration of the vessel is via the stage 
(gangway) on the bow, directly through the likely location of 
the fire.\8\ The Coast Guard has repeatedly advised and 
requested that the operators of the vessel add a second exit to 
the vessel's current configuration, but the operators have not 
acted.\9\ Accordingly, this bill would incentivize structural 
improvements to the Delta Queen while also recognizing the 
historical importance of the vessel. As Senator Portman noted, 
``The Delta Queen is a true Ohio treasure and an important part 
of the Queen City's history . . . 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.''\10\
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    \6\Letter from M. Tia Johnson Assistant Secretary for Legislative 
Affairs for the Department of Homeland Security, to Senator Nelson, 
January 8, 2016.
    \7\Ibid.
    \8\Ibid.
    \9\Ibid.
    \10\Rob Portman, U.S. Senator of Ohio, ``Portman and Brown's Bill 
to Restore Delta Queen Steamboat Passes Senate Commerce Committee,'' 
Accessed June 29, 2016, at http://www.portman.senate.gov/public/
index.cfm/2016/6/portman-brown-s-bill-to-restore-delta-queen-steamboat-
passes-senate-commerce-committee.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

                          Legislative History

    S. 89 was introduced by Senators McCaskill, Blunt, Brown, 
Portman, Cassidy, Cotton, and Boozman. On January 24, 2017, the 
Committee met in open Executive Session and, by voice vote, 
ordered S. 89 to be reported favorably without amendment.
    A similar bill, S. 1717, was introduced last Congress by 
Senators Brown and Portman on July 8, 2015. It was cosponsored 
by Senators Blunt, Boozman, Cassidy, Cochran, Cotton, 
McCaskill, and Vitter. On March 4, 2015, Representative Chabot 
introduced companion bill H.R. 1248 in the House of 
Representatives. On June 29, 2016, the Committee met in open 
Executive Session and, by voice vote, ordered S. 1717 to be 
reported favorably without amendment.

                            Estimated Costs

    In accordance with paragraph 11(a) of rule XXVI of the 
Standing Rules of the Senate and section 403 of the 
Congressional Budget Act of 1974, the Committee provides the 
following cost estimate, prepared by the Congressional Budget 
Office:

S. 89--A bill to amend title 46, United States Code, to exempt old 
        vessels that only operate within inland waterways from the 
        fire-retardant materials requirement if the owners of such 
        vessels make annual structural alterations to at least 10 
        percent of the areas of the vessels that are not constructed of 
        fire-retardant materials and for other purposes

    The U.S. Coast Guard administers a wide range of maritime 
safety laws and is responsible for inspecting vessels to ensure 
compliance with safety standards. Under current law, passenger 
vessels with overnight accommodations for more than 50 
passengers must be constructed of fire-retardant materials. S. 
89 would amend current law to exempt from that requirement 
(through 2028) vessels that operated before 1968, provided that 
owners operate them only within inland waterways and make 
certain structural alterations to them each year. CBO estimates 
that the proposed exemption would affect one vessel, a historic 
steamboat currently located in Louisiana.
    CBO estimates that enacting S. 89 would have no effect on 
the federal budget because the proposed exemption would not 
affect the U.S. Coast Guard's costs to meet its underlying 
responsibility to inspect vessels; spending for such 
inspections is provided in annual appropriation acts.
    Enacting the bill would not affect direct spending or 
revenues; therefore, pay-as-you-go procedures do not apply. CBO 
estimates that enacting S. 89 would not increase net direct 
spending or on-budget deficits in any of the four consecutive 
10-year periods beginning in 2028.
    S. 89 contains no intergovernmental or private-sector 
mandates as defined in the Unfunded Mandates Reform Act and 
would not affect the budgets of state, local, or tribal 
governments.
    The CBO staff contact for this estimate is Megan Carroll. 
The estimate was approved by H. Samuel Papenfuss, Deputy 
Assistant Director for Budget Analysis.

                           Regulatory Impact

    In accordance with paragraph 11(b) of rule XXVI of the 
Standing Rules of the Senate, the Committee provides the 
following evaluation of the regulatory impact of the 
legislation, as reported:

                       number of persons covered

    There is a single vessel that would be affected by this 
bill, the Delta Queen.

                            economic impact

    Enactment of this legislation is not expected to have any 
significant adverse impacts on the Nation's economy.

                                privacy

    This bill would not have any adverse impact on the privacy 
of individuals.

                               paperwork

    This bill would not increase paperwork requirements for 
private individuals or the Government. It would require the 
owner of the Delta Queen to notify the Coast Guard before 
making the alterations required by this legislation. The owner 
or operator of the vessel also would be required to notify, in 
writing, prospective passengers, prior to the sale of any 
ticket for boarding, that the vessel does not meet fire safety 
standards.

                   Congressionally Directed Spending

    In compliance with paragraph 4(b) of rule XLIV of the 
Standing Rules of the Senate, the Committee provides that no 
provisions contained in the bill, as reported, meet the 
definition of congressionally directed spending items under the 
rule.

                      Section-by-Section Analysis


Section 1. Fire-retardant materials exemption.

    Section 1 would amend title 46, United States Code, to 
exempt old vessels that only operate within inland waterways 
from the fire-retardant materials requirement if the following 
conditions are met:
           The owner or operator would be required to 
        make annual structural alterations to at least 10 
        percent of the areas of the vessels that are not 
        constructed of fire-retardant materials.
           The owner or operator would be required to 
        prioritize fire proofing alterations in the galleys, 
        engineering areas of the vessel, including all spaces 
        and compartments containing, or adjacent to spaces and 
        compartments containing, engines, boilers, main 
        electrical distribution panels, fuel tanks, oil tanks, 
        and generators.
           The owner or operator would be required to 
        notify the Coast Guard in advance of the annual 
        structural alterations and receive Coast Guard approval 
        that there was a sufficient reduction in the 
        combustible fire load after each annual inspection.
           The owner or operator of the vessel would be 
        required to notify in writing prospective passengers, 
        prior to the sale of any ticket for boarding, that the 
        vessel does not comply with applicable fire safety 
        standards. It also would require the owner of the 
        vessel to display in clearly legible font prominently 
        throughout the vessel, including in each state room, 
        the following: ``THIS VESSEL FAILS TO COMPLY WITH 
        SAFETY RULES AND REGULATIONS OF THE U.S. COAST GUARD.''
           The owner or operator of the vessel would be 
        prohibited from disclaiming liability to a passenger or 
        crew member for death, injury, or any other loss caused 
        by fire due to the negligence of the owner or managing 
        operator.
           The owner or operator also would be required 
        to acquire and maintain liability insurance in an 
        amount to be prescribed by the Federal Maritime 
        Commission prior to the vessel entering service.
           The owner or operator would be required to 
        notify all ports of call and State emergency management 
        offices of jurisdiction that the vessel does not comply 
        with fire safety standards.
           The crew of an exempt vessel would be 
        required to receive specialized training in shipboard 
        firefighting.

                        Changes in Existing Law

    In compliance with paragraph 12 of rule XXVI of the 
Standing Rules of the Senate, changes in existing law made by 
the bill, as reported, are shown as follows (existing law 
proposed to be omitted is enclosed in black brackets, new 
material is printed in italic, existing law in which no change 
is proposed is shown in roman):

                           TITLE 46. SHIPPING


                     SUBTITLE II. VESSELS AND SEAMEN

              PART B. INSPECTION AND REGULATION OF VESSELS

                   CHAPTER 35. CARRIAGE OF PASSENGERS

[Sec. 3503. Fire-retardant materials

  [(a) A passenger vessel of the United States having berth or 
stateroom accommodations for at least 50 passengers shall be 
granted a certificate of inspection only if the vessel is 
constructed of fire-retardant materials. Before November 1, 
2008, this section does not apply to any vessel in operation 
before January 1, 1968, and operating only within the Boundary 
Line.
  [(b)(1) When a vessel is exempted from the fire-retardant 
standards of this section--
                  [(A) the owner or managing operator of the 
                vessel shall notify prospective passengers that 
                the vessel does not comply with applicable fire 
                safety standards due primarily to the wooden 
                construction of passenger berthing areas;
                  [(B) the owner or managing operator of the 
                vessel may not disclaim liability to a 
                passenger for death, injury, or any other loss 
                caused by fire due to the negligence of the 
                owner or managing operator;
                  [(C) the penalties provided in section 
                3504(c) of this title apply to a violation of 
                this subsection; and
                  [(D) the owner or managing operator of the 
                vessel shall notify the Coast Guard of 
                structural alterations to the vessel, and with 
                regard to those alterations comply with any 
                noncombustible material requirements that the 
                Coast Guard prescribes for nonpublic spaces. 
                Coast Guard requirements shall be consistent 
                with preservation of the historic integrity of 
                the vessel in areas carrying or accessible to 
                passengers or generally visible to the public.
          [(2) The Secretary shall prescribe regulations under 
        this subsection on the manner in which prospective 
        passengers are to be notified.]

Sec. 3503. Fire-retardant materials

  (a)(1) A passenger vessel of the United States having berth 
or stateroom accommodations for at least 50 passengers shall be 
granted a certificate of inspection only if--
          (A) the vessel is constructed of fire-retardant 
        materials; and
          (B) the vessel--
                  (i) is operating engines, boilers, main 
                electrical distribution panels, fuel tanks, oil 
                tanks, and generators that meet current Coast 
                Guard regulations;
                  (ii) is operating boilers and main electrical 
                generators that are contained within 
                noncombustible enclosures equipped with fire 
                suppression systems; and
                  (iii) has multiple forms of egress off the 
                vessel's bow and stern.
  (2) Before December 1, 2028, this section does not apply to 
any vessel in operation before January 1, 1968, and operating 
only within the Boundary Line.
  (b)(1) When a vessel is exempted from the fire-retardant 
standards of subsection (a)--
          (A) the owner or managing operator of the vessel 
        shall--
                  (i) notify in writing prospective passengers, 
                prior to the sale of any ticket for boarding 
                and to be affirmatively recognized by such 
                passenger prior to purchase, and any crew 
                member that the vessel does not comply with 
                applicable fire safety standards due primarily 
                to the wooden construction of passenger 
                berthing areas; and
                  (ii) display in clearly legible font 
                prominently throughout the vessel, including in 
                each state room the following: `THIS VESSEL 
                FAILS TO COMPLY WITH SAFETY RULES AND 
                REGULATIONS OF THE U.S. COAST GUARD.';
          (B) the owner or managing operator of the vessel--
                  (i) may not disclaim liability to a passenger 
                or crew member for death, injury, or any other 
                loss caused by fire due to the negligence of 
                the owner or managing operator; and
                  (ii) shall acquire prior to entering service, 
                and maintain, liability insurance in an amount 
                to be prescribed by the Federal Maritime 
                Commission;
          (C) the penalties provided in section 3504(c) of this 
        title apply to a violation of this subsection;
          (D) the owner or managing operator of the vessel 
        shall--
                  (i) make annual structural alteration to not 
                less than 10 percent of the areas of the vessel 
                that are not constructed of fire retardant 
                materials;
                  (ii) prioritize alterations in galleys, 
                engineering areas of the vessel, including all 
                spaces and compartments containing, or adjacent 
                to spaces and compartments containing, engines, 
                boilers, main electrical distribution panels, 
                fuel tanks, oil tanks, and generators;
                  (iii) ensure, to the satisfaction of the 
                Coast Guard, that the combustible fire-load has 
                been reduced pursuant to clause (i) during each 
                annual inspection for certification; and
                  (iv) provide advance notice to the Coast 
                Guard regarding the structural alterations made 
                pursuant to clause (i) and comply with any 
                noncombustible material requirements prescribed 
                by the Coast Guard;
          (E) the Coast Guard, in making the determination 
        required in subparagraph (D)(iii), shall consider, to 
        the extent practicable, the goal of preservation of the 
        historic integrity of the vessel in areas carrying or 
        accessible to passengers or generally visible to the 
        public;
          (F) the owner or managing operator of the vessel 
        shall annually notify all ports of call and State 
        emergency management offices of jurisdiction that the 
        vessel does not comply with applicable fire safety 
        standards due primarily to the wooden construction of 
        passenger berthing areas;
          (G) the crews manning such vessel shall receive 
        specialized training, above minimum standards, in 
        regards to shipboard firefighting that is specialized 
        for exempted vessels and approved by the Coast Guard; 
        and
          (H) the owner or managing operator of the vessel 
        shall, to the extent practicable, take all steps to 
        retain previously trained crew knowledgeable of such 
        vessel or to hire crew trained in operations aboard 
        exempted vessels.
  (2) The Secretary shall conduct an annual audit and 
inspection of any vessel exempted from the fire-retardant 
standards of subsection (a).
  (c) The Secretary shall prescribe regulations to carry out 
this section. Such regulations shall include the manner in 
which prospective passengers are to be notified.
  (d) In addition to other penalties permitted by law, the 
Secretary is authorized to immediately withdraw a certificate 
of inspection for a passenger vessel that does not comply with 
any requirement under this section.

                                  [all]