A passenger aboard a New-Jersey-to-New-York-City ferryboat says the ship “was coming in hot” when it smashed into the dock, injuring 74 people. Investigators are looking into the possibility of a mechanical failure as the cause of the crash. The impact tossed the 326 passengers and five crew members around but none went overboard. One witness said a crew member told her the captain had been complaining recently about the ferry’s maneuverability.
The ship carries passengers across the Hudson River from New Jersey to Wall Street. Witnesses say the first sign of trouble came as it approached the slip on the Wall Street side of the crossing. The ferry “demolished” a buoy and struck the dock at an estimated 10 to 20 knots, which is between 11 and 23 miles per hour. Passengers were hurled to the desk, suffering cuts, bruises and other injuries. None were reported as critical. Police say the crew initiated emergency procedures right away and evacuated passengers rapidly. Police and fire rescue crews responded in force as well. All five crew members tested negative for alcohol on the scene.
Ferries are popular with commuters who work in Manhattan, where streets are crowded and parking can run $100 per day. The New York Post reports the ferry was recently fitted with a new propeller propulsion system, replacing water jets that used to drive the boat. The props reduced the craft’s top speed from 43 miles per hour to about 36 MPH, a change intended to save fuel. This particular ferryboat has been involved in three previous accidents including one in which the helm control malfunctioned.
The ferry’s owner posted an apology on its web page and said the company is “shocked and stunned” by the accident. The National Transportation Safety Board and the Coast Guard are in charge of the investigation. Authorities say the captain has been sailing for the ferry company for 16 years, and has been a captain for 13 years.
Source: New York Post, “Investigators eye mechanical failure as more than 70 injured as Seastreak ferry crashes,” Jessica Simeone, Jan 9, 2013