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New "fuel" to the "fire"

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    New "fuel" to the "fire"

    In the June 16th Waterays Journal I just received today there is a letter to the editor regarding Mr. Oberstar and the DQ from Walter Blessey Jr. For those who don't get the WWJ, the letter is firmly in support of Mr. Oberstar and for turning the DQ into a day boat. I would have thought that someone who has grown up working on the river as their profession and their livelyhood would have more appreciation for the small amount of "historic marine icons" we have left, but maybe not. I thought I'd pass the information along to those that don't take the WWJ. I don't know what Mr. Blessey's intentions where on writing the letter or if he and Oberstar are friends (sounds like they are). I wonder if Blessey has ever been on the DQ, and I wonder if he ever rides his own towboats. I'll openly admit there is a risk in doing just about anything these days, but I'd still take my chances overnight on the DQ anytime.

    Anyway, thought I'd pass that news along. Something else to frown about.

    I've heard a little about Mr. Blessey's operation over the years. I'll have dig around and see what I've just not really listened to the last several years!

    I might add that I got it on good authority this spring that Mr. Oberstar had "been a friend to the towing industry" (not my words). If Mr. Blessey's operation is union that would add up as to why he's saying good things about him.

    Thanks for the info. My letter to Senator Specter is waiting to be faxed as I write this. We've got to keep on keeping on!
    Last edited by Jo Ann Schoen; 06-18-2008, 04:38 PM. Reason: Addition


      Hi Jo Ann,

      I went to the Blessey Marine website where they have a generic "contact us" button. I put my e-mail to Mr. Blesseys attention and asked if his company had ever had an accidents with loss of life. I also asked if he had ever actually been aboard the DQ to see first hand how safe it is. Also asked if he and Oberstar where friends and if Oberstar had asked him to write this letter. He mentioned something in the letter about the DQ's hull being penetrated and the boat sinking like a rock. Um, double hull and watertight doors? Again more mis-information. Blesseys probably unaware that the original hull was covered with a new hull in the 90's and lets not mention the flame resistant paint again.

      Sha'll we coin a new phrase: Money talks and walking fertilizer......well walks.


        Blessey Marine is NOT a union operation.


          Yep, I found that out last night. Blessey is not a union operation. I also found out that they run a pretty clean operation in that they keep their equipment in good shape and follow all safety procedures as well as anyone on the rivers today.

          My contact on this subject asked the question "what concern is it of Blessey if she ran or not?" Makes me have to question that for certain. My contact went on to say "why is he sticking his nose in that?"

          My contact is an individual who could care less whether the DELTA QUEEN runs or not. So this is not a top helper on our list of campaigners.

          Aaron will you please write a letter in response back to the WWJ?


            Jo Ann,

            That's the part of Mr. Blessey writing a letter that I really don't understand either. How does he benefit by writing it to the WWJ. I will write a letter to the WWJ in response to Mr. Blessey's, but I also want to keep my nose clean. I'm not out to burn any bridges with an industry that I hope to one day be an owner/operator in. It floors me though that any one associated with the river would write negatively against the DQ. The DQ has provided jobs to alot of retired towboat captains over the years and to most industry people the DQ is still a welcome sight and a reminder of the past. Bob, Shipyard, Jim Davis, other former towboaters,what are your thoughts on this? Does the towing industry have a problem with the DQ?


              The only other thoughts my contact had on this was, has someone on the DELTA QUEEN or within the company done something to make them mad? I can't imagine getting to go through a lock first would be enough to warrant this. Wonder if maybe he's lost some "good" people to the DQ, MQ or AQ over the years? Being the cynical person that I am my honest thought is that since Oberstar has been a friend to the towing industry his staff is calling in favors.

              Thanks for taking the time to write a response. I'm sure it will be a very thoughtful one and not nearly as firey as I would want to write!
              Last edited by Jo Ann Schoen; 06-19-2008, 01:52 PM. Reason: Addition


                Don't Call Me Mister...

                Like any other friend of the DELTA QUEEN who read Walter "Nobody calls me Mister" Blessey, Jr's letter to the WWJ expressing his difference of opinion with an editorial the weekly river trade mag ran critical to Mr. Oberstar and his opposition to the exemption of the DQ, I was surprised. Obviously, as Blessey said, he is a personal friend of the T&I Chairman and apparently upset about what he considered a personal attack upon his pal. Anyone reading the Blessey letter, and not familiar with the positive attributes of the DELTA QUEEN, might concede that Mr. B posed some good points.

                Though I have not met the godfather of the Blessey fleet of petroleum haulers, I am familiar with him through numerous articles in the Journal. WBJ and his company, Blessey Marine Services, Inc, both enjoy the respect and admiration of the river community.

                Blessey also admitted that the historic aspects of the river have their place, too, on the inland waters, and I do not believe that he, nor others in the towing industry, harbor a vendetta against the DELTA QUEEN. It is my opinion that Blessey is viewing the QUEEN in much the same light that he would with a piece of older equipment within his own fleet.

                If Walter, Jr. truly believes that there is room for, and a real need to preserve the history of the river, then I would love to see a Walter Blessy, Jr. buy the steamboat company and operate it right, if only as a hobby, in the same way his towing company is run, and we might have far fewer concerns for the futures of any of the steamboats in the DQSC fleet.

                'Nobody calls me mister.' - Walter E. Blessey Jr. of Blessey Marine Service Inc - Making It - Brief Article - Company Profile | Nation's Business | Find Articles at BNET


                  I just read the letter in the WJ today. Mr. Blessey makes some statements that show his ignorance of the issue at hand, and I just have to wonder what "facts" he has been fed by Mr. Oberstar. Blessey states that the DQ would "go down like a rock" if holed, and advocates the building of a "replica vessel made of steel with a compartmentalized hull that meets modern safety standards." He obviously knows nothing about the construction of the DELTA QUEEN. In the first paragraph of his letter, Blessey alludes to the DELTA QUEEN operating as a "seagoing passenger vessel", which she of course is not and never has been. These are the statements that lead me to believe Blessey has been spoon-fed his "facts" by Oberstar. Walter Blessey, while never having worked on a boat (to my knowledge) is smarter than that, and as others have said here, has the respect of a great many people, including the owners of my company who are his direct competitors! We can only hope that he has not sent this same letter or a variation thereof to any other publications. I feel confident that in the Waterways Journal, at least, the truth will come out, and that rather soon. It is other venues that I worry about.

                  As a person who always looks on the bright side, this letter may just bring about a new blitz of what the DQ is and is not, educating the public and the congress as to the real issue which as we all know is not safety.


                    Bob, I agree. When I read Blessey's WJ letter, I got the distinct impression that he believes the DQ has a wooden hull, made in 1926. It was a totally mis-informed letter to the editors. I'm surprised the WJ published it.


                      Ain't the Ole Greene Line

                      Hopefully those with at least some degree of influence, similar to what Walter Blessey, Jr. commands on the river, will respond to the WWJ in support of the DELTA QUEEN and set the record straight.

                      And wouldn't it be great if the boat ended-up in the hands of the right river folks who love the DELTA QUEEN and want to restore her to the glory she enjoyed when the Greene Line house flag flew from the jack staff ?



                        I would love to see nothing less than the return to glory for the ol gal! I like YOUR politics here!



                          Here is the response I got from my e-mail on the Blessey Marine website:

                          "We have laws and regulations to follow. If one is unreasonable or unrealistic, it needs to be repealed. Otherwise, we need to abide by same. The practice of giving exemptions makes a mockery of the law."

                          --Walter E. Blessey, Jr.


                            Yeah, right, and I guess he ALWAYS drives within the speed limit... What a cop out!


                              Well, then Mr. Oberstar's status as Representative and Committee Chairman needs to be repealed, too; to speak in Mr. Blessey's words. Oberstar is definitely not within "laws and regulations" with his behaviour but is mis-using heavily his political power connected with his status as Representative and Chairman of the Transportation Committee.