An apparent mechanical malfunction caused a Staten Island Ferry, the Andrew J. Barberi, to crash into the dock at Staten Island’s St. George Ferry Terminal.
The malfunction occurred about 9:20 a.m. Saturday morning as the ship approached the U-shaped docking slip. The ferry experienced no loss of power, but rather an inability to pull back on the throttle and reduce the ferry’s speed as it approached the dock. When situation became apparent to the Captain, he sounded a warning throughout the ferry signaling a difficult landing. The signal giving about one minute before impact, ferry personnel moved passengers away from the front of the ship where they often assemble to be first off the ferry after docking.
The ferry carried 252 passengers and 18 crewmembers, operating across the New York harbor between Manhattan and Staten Island. The ship traveled at about 5 knots, equal to 5.8 miles per hour, at the time of impact.
Of 37 people injured, ambulances transported 17 to area hospitals while 20 were still undergoing evaluation on site, Department of Transportation Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan said in a press conference. Most suffered only bumps and bruises, with no life threatening injuries. One person complained of chest pains and rushed by ambulance to the hospital for a possible heart attack.
Her agency was investigating the cause to the crash and reviewing video surveillance.
View the press conference video on NY1.com.
“Thank god the injuries were minimal,” Chief Operating Officer of the Staten Island Ferry, James DeSimone, said at the press conference.
When asked by reporters if the ferry had been maintained properly, DeSimone stated, “It is maintained in accordance with the highest standards of the American Bureau of Shipping and the United States Coast Guard.”
Bill Tanzosh, New York City Fire Department Deputy Chief, said his division set up a triage area and searched for injured persons, performing a complete search of the ship and surrounding waters in case anyone fell overboard during the crash.
Sadik-Khan said, “I want to distinguish between the 2003 incident, which was not mechanical failure.”
The Andrew J. Barberi is the same ferry involved in 2003 when the pilot, under the influence of painkillers and extremely fatigued, lost consciousness at the helm of the ship and plowed into a concrete pier of the St. George terminal at full speed, killing 11 people and injuring more 70.