Ferry That Injured Scores of Commuters in New York Underwent Major Renovations

It seems that the commuter ferry that injured scores—two critically—in a crash yesterday in Manhattan underwent considerable and noteworthy renovations last year.

The ferry’s high-speed four-engine system was replaced with a propeller system said The Los Angeles Times, which made the Seastreak Wall Street lighter and more fuel efficient. The Seastreak is a 140.7-foot-long catamaran with three decks, according to online shipping magazine, Marinelog. The piece detailed the way in which the vessel’s engines were exchanged for propellers and that the changes were deemed suitable for the boat, given operating costs; ferry schedule changes; and the original engine system, which had been in place since the Seastreak’s launch in 2003, the LA Times noted.

Investigators into the crash promised to review all aspects of the Seastreak to determine why it failed to stop appropriately when it pulled into Lower Manhattan’s Pier 11. The crash occurred at 8:45 yesterday morning. In addition to checking the vessel, investigators are conducting toxicology tests on the ship’s operators, said the LA Times.

The Seastreak was traveling from Atlantic Highlands, New Jersey, about 47 miles south of Lower Manhattan; 326 passengers and five crew members were on board when the vessel crashed into a slip at Pier 11. The ferry, unable to stop, continued, smashing into a second slip, the LA Times said. The boat suffered a large gash in its right front; passengers were flung down the stairs and to the ground. One passenger, said the LA Times, was thrown through a glass door.

Marinelog indicated that the Seastreak’s new system “involved a considerable reconfiguration” of the ferry’s aft section; large sections of the hull’s topsides and undersides were removed as part of the propeller and rudder installations. What were also described as “significant cosmetic changes” were also made and involved “gutting the interior” of the ship that ended up 15 metric tons lighter than it was when originally built. According to Marinelog, the Seastreak underwent sea trials following the changes, said the LA Times.

The nautical online magazine also pointed out that Seastreak’s original propulsion engine system was chosen “with emphasis on speed,” allowing the vessel to travel at greater than 38 knots. The ferry’s new system has slowed the ship by about three knots and cut CO2 emissions by half, said the LA Times.

Yesterday afternoon, Janette Sadik-Khan, the New York City transportation commissioner, said two people were critically injured and nine others were being treated for serious wounds. Dozens of others sustained less severe injuries. About 150 firefighters, paramedics, and emergency workers responded, according to Newsday.

As we mentioned yesterday, the Coast Guard, the New York City police, fire, and transportation departments are all involved in investigating the crash and a team from the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) was expected to arrive in New York to lead the investigation. The Huffington Post reports that the NTSB is expected to begin interviewing crew today. NTSB board member, Robert Sumwalt, said the interviews would take the entire day.

Naval architecture firm, Incat Crowther, designed the Seastreak’s reconfiguration. James Baker, chairman of Seastreak LLC, which owns the ferry, told Huffington Post that the overhaul made the Seastreak “the greenest ferry in America.” When asked if the work adversely impacted the Seastreak’s maneuverability or caused the pilots any problems, Seastreak spokesman, Bob Dorn, said it would be up to the NTSB to make that determination.

This entry was posted in Accident. Bookmark the permalink.

© 2005-2016 Parker Waichman LLP ®. All Rights Reserved.