Manhattan ferry crash injures 70+

NEW YORK- The Seastreak Wall Street, a catamaran-style ferry carrying roughly 330 passengers, crashed into the Pier 11 ferry terminal here yesterday at 8:45 a.m., injuring as many as 70, with 11 of those injuries described as “serious.” There have been no reports of pollution or flooding as a result of the incident.

Two rescue boats from Coast Guard Station New York, along with a number of vessels from New York City Fire Department and New York Police Department., immediately responded and an investigation is now ongoing as to what caused the accident. The crew on board the Seastreak Wall Street were tested immediately for alcohol and passed. Drug test results have not yet been released.

In a call with WorkBoat, Seastreak spokesman Bob Dorn said the company was unprepared to comment on the cause of the crash, and that “the NTSB is on the scene and they’ve taken full command. We did have people injured … two critically … our thoughts and prayers go out to them. We are sorry as to this event.”

01.10.13.ferry2Weather does not seem to have been a factor in the incident, as there were five-knot winds with wave height at less than one foot and generally clear visibility.

You can see video of the investigation here.

The Seastreak Wall Street is operated by Seastreak, which is a sister company to Moran Towing Co., the Interlake Steamship Company, and Mormac Marine Group, which are collectively owned by the Barker and Tregurtha families. James R. Barker serves as chairman of Seastreak. 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.

The company released a press advisory saying “the vessel’s crew immediately initiated emergency response procedures and authorities responded quickly due to the location.” Seastreak reported that its incident response team was already on site just a few hours after the incident and was working closely with FDNY and NYPD.

The company also reports that it is working to provide transportation for injured parties’ families to come and attend to them, and “to make other arrangements to help them.”

“We know passengers rely on us to provide safe transit on our boats,” the company said in a separate statement, “and safety is the number one concern for our company.”

The Seastreak Wall Street is one of four high-speed passenger ferries built for Seastreak by Gladding-Hearn Shipbuilding, Somerset, Mass., and entered service in 2003. It is 141’x34’ with a 6.43’ draught, with capacity for 505 passengers on three decks. It has a top speed of 42 knots with a normal service speed of 38 knots.

It was originally powered by four Cummins KTA50M2 engines, developing a total of 7,500 hp, and propelled by four KaMeWa A50 waterjets. Of note, however, Dorn told WorkBoat, is that as part of “basic renewal,” they replaced the main engines last year and put on controllable pitch props.

Incat Crowther led a repowering that resulted in the installation of two MTU 16V4000M53 engines and Servogear controllable pitch propellers in order to acquire “significant fuel savings.”

The refit also resulted in a complete gutting of the interior and general overhaul that resulted in a reduction in total weight of some 15 tonnes and a reduction in per-passenger carbon-dioxide emissions of one half.

Investigators will look into whether anything involved with the retrofitting and repowering led to the accident yesterday.