A loss of propulsion control caused by a faulty valve and lack of alarm to alert crewmembers caused the 2010 Staten Island Ferry collision with the ferry terminal, according to findings from the NTSB investigation into the incident.
The NTSB says that on May 8, 2010, the 310-foot-long passenger ferry Andrew J. Barberi, one of two ferry boats operated as part of the world famous Staten Island Ferry, lost propulsion control to one its two cycloidal propellers as the vessel approached St. George terminal in Staten Island, New York, causing the ferry to crash into the dock. The crash resulted in three passengers suffering serious injuries and more than 40 passengers and crew reported with minor injuries.
The NTSB says that the Andrew J. Barberi, which has a capacity of nearly 6,000 passengers, was not equipped with, nor was it required to have, an alarm to alert the pilothouse crewmembers to the loss of propulsion control and that this type of alarm would have given the crew additional time to respond, possibly preventing the injuries.
Now, the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) recommends that U.S. passenger vessels with controllable pitch propulsion, including cycloidal propulsion, as with the Andrew J. Barberi, be equipped with alarms that audibly and visually alert operators when the propeller fails to respond to commands.
Previously, the Andrew J. Barberi was involved in the deadly 2003 accident where the vessel crashed full-speed into a concrete pier at the same terminal, killing a total of 11 people and injuring several others. As a result of that accident, the NTSB recommended the vessel operator – the New York City Department of Transportation (NYC DOT) Ferry Division – implement a safety management system (SMS) and train its personnel in it.
“The bad news is that the Barberi experienced an unanticipated and unusual failure in its propulsion system,” said NTSB Chairman Deborah A.P. Hersman. “The good news is that no lives were lost and our investigation showed positive safety improvements following the 2003 accident, in particular the NYC DOT Ferry Division implemented an industry-leading safety management system.”