Did Seastreak hit an underwater obstruction?

WASHINGTON - The National Transportation Safety Board indicated in an update of its investigation that an underwater obstruction may have contributed to the Seastreak Wall Street accident that injured some 70+ ferry passengers in New York City.

An underwater survey of the vessel revealed damage to the port propeller, and while a more complete hull survey will be conducted when the vessel is hauled from the water for repairs, the Army Corps of Engineers has been asked to conduct a bottom survey of the approach to Pier 11 to determine if there are any underwater approach obstructions.

Other factors are already being ruled out. The vessel’s steering system has been found satisfactory and NTSB investigators have also interviewed the U.S. Coast Guard personnel who inspected the Seastreak Wall Street in July 2012, after the engine and propeller modifications were completed. The inspectors indicated that they found the modifications satisfactory and issued a temporary Certificate of Inspection, certifying that the vessel has been inspected and that it is in conformance with the applicable vessel inspection laws and regulations. The COI also sets forth the conditions, routes, and manning under which a vessel may operate.

In other updates, the engine manufacturer arrived on-scene last Friday and investigators were able to download alarm and parametric data stored on engine control modules in each of the two engine compartments. In addition, investigators retrieved video from several onboard cameras. All of this information is being analyzed. Static testing of the main engines and control systems is ongoing.

Additionally, NTSB investigators have made contact with 25 of the injured passengers and conducted interviews with 13 regarding what they observed during the accident. More witness interviews are being conducted and investigators are continuing to contact additional passengers from the ferry.