UPDATE—The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) has released some new information regarding the investigation of the SeaStreak Wall Street ferry accident that occurred in Lower Manhattan on January 9th. Using a dive team, the NTSB has surveyed the underwater portions of the ferry. The divers reported damage to the ferry’s port propeller; however this new information has not been used to determine the cause of the accident. Other testing continues to be conducted on various other mechanical systems on the ferry such as the engines and the propulsion system that had recently been modified. The NTSB has completed its examination on the steering system and has determined the system to be satisfactory.
In 2012, the SeaStreak received a new propulsion system and had two new engines installed. These modifications were conducted on the vessel in order to reduce weight and improve fuel economy. The NTSB continues to examine and test these modifications to determine if they may have compromised the performance of the ferry. After the 2012 modifications were implemented, the U.S. Coast Guard (USCG) inspected the vessel according to protocol. The USCG inspection was recorded as satisfactory and issued a temporary Certificate of Inspection (COI). According to the USCG marine safety manual, a temporary COI may be issued with a period of validity for up to one year and contains specific operation restrictions. These specific restrictions range from electrical and wiring codes to the conditions of the hull and engine rooms. The COI also sets the conditions and routes under which a vessel can operate. According to the USCG, the SeaStreak Wall Street has had no violations under the current COI.
The NTSB continues to investigate the ferry after it crashed into a concrete slip while attempting to dock at a Lower Manhattan pier. The crash caused 70 people to become injured, including 11 seriously injured. The captain, Jason Reimer, was interviewed by investigators from the NTSB right after the crash occurred and stated that the vessel’s controls and the engines failed him as he tried to dock the ferry in the slip.
The manufactor of the ferry’s engines arrived last Friday and continues to be on scene. Technicians from the manufacturer were able to retrieve data from the computers that were used to monitor the engines conditions. There are also videos that have been retrieved from onboard cameras that the investigators continue to analyze.
The Army Corps of Engineers have also been called to the scene. They are surveying the underwater conditions to look for any obstructions that may have compromised the docking approach. Once the ferry is pulled from the water for repairs a further investigation of the hull can be completed.
In addition to the investigation of the vessel, the NTSB has made contact with many of the passengers who were on board to describe what they had observed during the accident. SeaStreak President Jim Barker continues to cooperate with investigators and ensures its customers they are fully committed to safe operation practices regarding its ferry service.