Marine Accident Report

Sinking of the Amphibious Passenger
Vehicle Miss Majestic, Lake Hamilton,
Near Hot Springs, Arkansas,
May 1, 1999

NTSB Number NTSB/MAR0201
NTIS Number PB2002-916401
PDF Document(2MB)

Executive Summary: On May 1, 1999, the amphibious passenger vehicle Miss Majestic, with an operator and 20 passengers on board, entered Lake Hamilton near Hot Springs, Arkansas, on a regular excursion tour. About 7 minutes after entering the water, the vehicle listed to port and rapidly sank by the stern in 60 feet of water. One passenger escaped before the vehicle submerged but the remaining passengers and the operator were trapped by the vehicle’s canopy roof and drawn under water. During the vehicle’s descent to the bottom of the lake, 6 passengers and the operator were able to escape and, upon their reaching the water’s surface, were rescued by pleasure boaters in the area. The remaining 13 passengers, including 3 children, lost their lives. The vehicle damage was estimated at $100,000.

The Safety Board’s investigation of this accident identified the following major safety issues:

The National Transportation Safety Board determines that the probable cause of the uncontrolled flooding and sinking of the Miss Majestic was the failure of Land and Lakes Tours, Inc., to adequately repair and maintain the DUKW. Contributing to the sinking was a flaw in the design of DUKWs as converted for passenger service, that is, the lack of adequate reserve buoyancy that would have allowed the vehicle to remain afloat in a flooded condition. Contributing to the unsafe condition of the Miss Majestic was the lack of adequate oversight by the Coast Guard. Contributing to the high loss of life was a continuous canopy roof that entrapped passengers within the sinking vehicle.

As a result of this investigation, the Safety Board makes recommendations to the U.S. Coast Guard and the Governors of the States of New York and Wisconsin.