New York senator seeks capacity-limit legislation

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In the wake of the Independence Day boating tragedy on Long Island Sound, U.S. Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., introduced legislation that would require the posting of capacity limits on boats over 20 feet.

“In light of the Coast Guard’s refusal to act, Schumer [Thursday] introduced the Boating Capacity Standards Act of 2012, which will require the Coast Guard to develop capacity limits for boats over 20 feet in length and require capacity limits to be posted on all new boats to help prevent future tragedies,” Schumer’s office said in a statement.

In July, Schumer urged the Coast Guard to voluntarily adopt regulations after three children died when a 34-foot Silverton carrying 27 passengers capsized in Cove Neck after an Independence Day fireworks show.

Although an investigation examining the reasons for the capsizing is still under way, there have been “numerous questions raised about overall capacity capabilities for such vessels,” the statement read.

“This tragedy shocked New Yorkers and Americans across the country, and we vowed to do everything we could to prevent it from happening again,” Schumer said in a statement released Thursday. “Because the U.S. Coast Guard refuses to step up to the plate and require boats to post capacity limits, today I’m introducing legislation requiring them to do so. The Boat Capacity Standards Act of 2012 will ensure that all boaters, no matter the size of their vessel, are aware of how many people should be on board and will help honor the memory of the children who died on that terrible day.”

In his letter to the Coast Guard in July, Schumer noted that because the boat that capsized was longer than 20 feet it did not require a Coast Guard Capacity Information plaque on board. Schumer argued that such a visibly displayed plaque can help dissuade boat owners and passengers from overcrowding a vessel, serving to prevent future tragedies.

Schumer also cited an accident in which the Ethan Allen, a 40-foot boat, capsized and sank on Lake George in the Adirondack Mountains on Oct. 2, 2005. The boat held 47 passengers, and 20 died. Originally constructed to accommodate 48 passengers, the Ethan Allen had been modified with a canopy that should have lowered the capacity to 14 passengers, the statement said. That accident also caused regulators to consider new laws related to boat capacity limits.

Click here for the full release.


9 comments on “New York senator seeks capacity-limit legislation

  1. Myron Hawkins

    This article simply reports Senator Schumer’s news release, which makes an accusation against the U. S. Coast Guard. It would have been more informative and responsible journalism to at least summarize the Coast Guard’s position on the issue.

  2. Doug Reimel

    Myron you are on spot. Reporting only one side of the story, the sensational side of the story, is just like the mainstream media. Responsibility is important

  3. CaptEric

    Schmuck Humor, I mean Chuck Schumer, needs to focus on the tasks at hand not trying to coming up knee-jerk legislation as usual. If he’s up for election, vote him out…

  4. Capt. Chris

    You cannot legislate intelligence. A capacity plate would never have hindered any boat owner stupid enough to over load a boat the way this one was overloaded. Politicians should quit jumping on the headline de jour simply for a photo op or a sound bite. How about doing what congress is really paid to do and give us a budget for example. Leave the safety issues to the USCG which is infinitely more qualified than Sen Schumer on these issues.

  5. Rod

    I wish Sen. Shumer would quit trying so hard to prove how little he knows about reality! First, how is requiring a Capacity Plate on a NEW boats going to prevent tragedies involving older boats? The Vessel in this recent tragedy was 28 years old and was built long before Sen. Shumer even knew what a capacity plate is. COMMON SENSE should have prevented this tragedy! And once again, how is a little label going to stop another idiot from overloading his or her boat?? Capacity plates on smaller boats are ignored all the time, both for persons and max horsepower….. so, what make mr “dogooder” think that idiots are going to odey the capacity on larger vessels??

    Once again, we see a regulation being pushed by someone who knows absolutely nothing about what he is talking about, that will cost the boatign industry big $$$ and most likely will have very little effect on saving lives. Plus, is he going to increase the USCG budget to pay for enforcing this new law?? Once again we are trying to release people from their personal responsibility and trying to make a law that will only work if enforced. I ca nalready hear the plaintive cry…..”If only this law had been in effect before July 4, 2012……because if it had been….the USCG or the local Harbor police could have stopped this boat (or the owner/operator would NEVER have allowed so many people aboard?) and saved those 3 innocent children!!” You know, if the owner/operator had showed even a tiny bit of COMMON SENSE those kids would stil lbe alive today!! But personal responsibility for ones stupidity isn’t something that makes news……passing gut reaction laws instead does make news! Seems backwards to me??

  6. PB

    I would like to know how the senator thinks he can regulate stupidity. Anyne with common sense would have known you don’t take 27 people out on a 34 foot boat. Did the boat even have 27 life vests? Did the boat owner observe how nuch lower his boat sat in the water and how tender it was to operate with the excessive weight? Putting a capacity plate on a boat only works if it is read and followed! The problem is not the Coast Guard, not the boat or the manufacturer, it was the operator and the other foolish operators kicking up large wakes at close range in total darkness!

  7. Stephen

    A study was done by an independent group, published I believe in Soundings. The gist of it is that this boat in particular was constructed in such a way that even the three children in the main cabin were higher than the water level, thus raising the boat’s center of gravity. You can only imagine what the folks up on the flybridge and sundeck did to that center of gravity. This boat was NOT seaworthy with that many people aboard, and, frankly, the skipper should have realized that.

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