Honorable Deborah Hersman, NTSB Board Member

Chairman Deborah A.P. Hersman
Opening Statement
Marine accident report
Allision of Passenger Ferry Andrew J. Barberi
with St. George Terminal
Staten Island, New York, May 8, 2010
(As Prepared for Delivery)


Good morning. Welcome to the Boardroom of the National Transportation Safety Board. I am Debbie Hersman, and it is my privilege to serve as Chairman of the National Transportation Safety Board. Joining me are my fellow Board members: Vice Chairman Chris Hart, Member Robert Sumwalt, Member Mark Rosekind, and Member Earl Weener.

Today, we meet in open session, as required by the Government in the Sunshine Act, to consider two accident reports - one marine and one rail. We begin with the accident report on the May 8, 2010, collision of the Andrew J. Barberi into the St. George, Staten Island, terminal. As a result of the accident, three passengers were seriously injured and more than 40 passengers and crew reported minor injuries. I would like to recognize Member Robert Sumwalt for his excellent service as the spokesperson for the NTSB's on-scene investigative activities immediately after the accident.

Over the past several weeks, the Board Members have read the proposed staff reports and individually met with NTSB staff to discuss the drafts. Today, however, is the first time that all of the Board Members are meeting together to discuss it. Staff will make presentations on the major issues of the accident investigations. The presentations will be followed by questions from the Board Members. We will then consider the staff's conclusions, probable cause, and safety recommendations. Because these are the Board's actual deliberations on the report, it may be revised as a result of actions taken during this meeting. Approximately 30 minutes after we conclude, an abstract of this report will be posted on the NTSB's website.

I'd like to recognize the groups that responded to the collision, especially the New York City Police and the Fire Departments, as well as recognize the parties that participated in our investigation.

This was not the first accident involving the Andrew J. Barberi, one of the world's highest-capacity passenger-carrying vessels, with a capacity for nearly 6,000 passengers. As you will hear from staff, almost nine years ago, the Barberi had a collision that led to 11 passenger fatalities.

That 2003 accident led to the New York City Department of Transportation making significant improvements in its Ferry Division - improvements demonstrated by the actions of the crew and shore-side personnel on May 8, 2010. Notable among the improvements: in 2005, they implemented a safety management system, or SMS, consistent with our recommendations issued after the 2003 accident. In the moments after the 2010 accident, the Ferry Division's personnel efficiently and effectively executed their emergency response procedures as trained under the SMS.

Operating under the discipline and standardization of an SMS is a strong step forward and sets the stage for a positive safety culture. We commend the Ferry Division for stepping up to improve safety for the 21 million people who ride the ferries each year.

In addition to highlighting the safety benefits of operating under an SMS, this investigation underscored the importance of alarms to alert the passenger vessel crews about a loss of propulsion control. You'll hear more about this, but this is not the first accident involving passenger injuries that resulted from undetected loss of propulsion control. We will hear about other lessons learned from our team.

Dr. Mayer, will you please introduce the staff.