NEW YORK - The
captain of the Seastreak Wall Street
ferry that slammed into a New York pier last week told investigators that the
reverse thrust controls failed as he tried to slow the vessel.
36-year-old captain, described as Seastreak’s
most experienced captain, said that neither the starboard nor center console
controls responded. In addition, at some point during the rapid sequence of
events, “he reported that both diesel engines shut off,” National Transportation
Safety Board member Robert L. Sumwalt said at briefings about the Jan. 9
allision. The accident injured more than 57 — two critically — of the roughly
326 passengers and five crew onboard. There were no steering problems.
You can watch all of Sumwalt's press briefings here.
said NTSB spent three hours talking with the captain, who was not named, and 90
minutes with the mate the day after the accident. They also interviewed the
engineer and two deckhands. The captain has 17 years experience on ferries and
12 as captain.
of these crewmembers are shaken and very concerned about the accident,” Sumwalt
said. “They’ve been very forthright and cooperative.” The captain told
investigators he was rested. Blood alcohol tests showed 0 percent for each crewmember,
“just where we want to see it,” Sumwalt said. Drug tests were sent to a lab for
will go through all maintenance records trying especially to determine if
others had experienced problems with the thrust controls.
The 141’x34’x6’4” high-speed Seastreak
Wall Street built by Gladding-Hearn Shipbuilding, Somerset, Mass.,
entered service in 2003.
Last July, the vessel’s original waterjet system was replaced with a
pair controllable-pitch props, Sumwalt said. “The engines were never modified,”
he said. However, the original four Cummins KTA main engines, which drove four
KaMeWa A50 waterjets, were replaced by a pair of MTU 16V4000M53 engines driving
two controllable-pitch props, according to Incat Crowther, which helped design the new system.
captain at the time of the accident was also the one who conducted sea trials
and trained others on the new system.
no voyage data recorder is required, Sumwalt noted “there is so little data
that whatever is available we need to capture.”
engine manufacturer told the NTSB that the engine control unit captures data
“that may shed light on why the engines shut down during the accident,” Sumwalt
said. In addition, the ferry has six closed-circuit TV cameras including four
on the engines.
also wants to track down all available video of the accident. He asked that
anyone with cellphone or other videos send them to email@example.com.
talked with officials of Atlantic Highlands, N.J.-based Seastreak, a sister
company to Moran Towing Co., Interlake Steamship Company, and Mormac Marine Group. In addition to its
New York operations and its fleet of five vessels, Seastreak operates a
seasonal ferry between New Bedford, Mass., and Martha's Vineyard.
Wednesday’s accident remains under investigation, you can rest assured that we
will learn from the accident and the investigation, and if it is determined
that changes to our operation are appropriate to make our service safer for our
riders, we will promptly institute those changes,” Barker said in a message on
the company website.