Powerful water pump removed from duck boat before it sank

(FILE) Citing a maritime law from the 1850s, the companies that operated a duck boat that sank during a fierce storm in July, killing 17 people, have filed paperwork asking a federal court to rule they have little or no liability for the incident.

BRANSON, Mo. (AP) – Records show a water pump had been replaced with a less powerful system in a tourist duck boat that sank in a Missouri lake, killing 17 people.

The Kansas City Star reports that the original Higgins pump is capable of removing as much as 250 gallons of water per minute. But it was replaced with two less powerful pumps in the boat that sank in July at Table Rock Lake in the Branson area.

The capacity of those two pumps wasn’t clear. But Coast Guard duck boat inspection records show that other Higgins pumps have been replaced in recent years in other ducks boats with pumps that combined can extract just 20 gallons of water or less per minute.

The sunken boat’s owner, Ripley Entertainment, declined to comment.