NTSB Press Release

National Transportation Safety Board
Office of Public Affairs


UPDATE ON NTSB"S INVESTIGATION OF THE MAY 8 STATEN ISLAND FERRY ACCIDENT 

June 18, 2010


On Saturday, May 8, 2010, the National Transportation Safety Board launched a team to the New York City Borough of Staten Island to investigate an accident involving a Staten Island ferry.  The passenger ferry, Andrew J. Barberi, departed Whitehall Ferry Terminal in lower Manhattan for its regularly scheduled voyage to St. George's Ferry Terminal, Staten Island.   At approximately, 9:19 a.m. (EDT), the vessel struck the boarding apron and transition bridge on slip No. 5 of the pier on Staten Island.   At the time of the accident, there were 18 crewmembers, 2 New York City police officers, 2 concessionaires and 244 passengers on the ferry.   Forty-eight persons reported minor injuries.  The NTSB's on- scene investigation was completed on Saturday, May 15.  Below is an update on the Safety Board's ongoing investigation.  

The last U.S. Coast Guard inspection on the vessel was its quarterly inspection on April 15, 2010.

Drug and alcohol tests of the crew were negative for alcohol and illegal drugs.

Investigators visited the Coast Guard's Vessel Traffic Service and obtained a copy of the vessel track line.  The track line shows the Andrew J. Barberi abeam of the KV buoy with a Course over Ground (COG) of 230 degrees and a Speed over Ground (SOG) of approximately 16 knots.  From the midpoint of the KV buoy to the entrance to slip No. 5, the vessel has a COG of 227 degrees and a SOG of about 14 knots.

A preliminary review of the pilot-house close-circuit television (CCTV) video of the entire transit from Whitehall to St. George indicates the voyage was uneventful until the approach to slip No. 5.  At that time the video shows crew members taking actions consistent with attempting to slow the vessel prior to entering the slip.

Investigators interviewed the deckhand at slip No. 5 who operated the transition bridge, which allows passengers to embark and disembark from the vessel to the terminal.  According to the deckhand, he noticed the speed of the ferry was faster than usual as it entered the slip.  As a result, he positioned the transition bridge to align with the main deck (which is also performed in a normal docking), believing this action would lessen the damage to the ferry and injury to passengers.  Both the interview and preliminary review of the CCTV video indicate he was at the operator station and aligned the bridge to the main deck of the vessel prior to the accident.     

The Emergency Preparedness and Response Group has interviewed eight passengers, one police officer, and five New York DOT employees.  The Andrew Barberi video shows passengers jostled in their seats and some standing passengers falling to the deck during the accident.  Some of the passengers stated that there may have been more injuries if it had not been drizzling as the ferry neared St. George; instead of standing outside near the Staten Island end of the vessel in preparation for disembarking, many passengers remained inside the vessel.

Some of the injured passengers stated they heard a warning over the public address system just before the accident, while others did not recall hearing a warning.

The Engineering Group interviewed 10 persons, including all the engineering crew on watch at the time of the accident and several port engineers.

At the time of the accident the Chief Engineer was on duty in the engine control room below decks.  He was first aware of a problem when he heard the engine audible pitch increase.  He looked at the CCTV and noticed the vessel was in the slip and moving too fast.  He instructed the engine crew in the engine control room to brace for impact. 

The vessel is a "double-ender", symmetric about the midpoint with pilot houses located at each end (named Staten Island and New York ends).  The named ends in the forward or bow of the vessel during transit to the respective dock location.  At the time of the accident the crew was controlling the vessel from the Staten Island end pilot house. 

NTSB Office of Public Affairs: (202) 314-6100

 

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The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) is an independent federal agency charged with determining the probable cause
of transportation accidents, promoting transportation safety, and assisting victims of transportation accidents and their families.