June 18, 2010 | Mark Paradies


                      NTSB ADVISORY

National Transportation Safety Board
Washington, DC 20594

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

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

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

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.

The vessel is propelled by cycloidal propulsion units, one mounted at each
end of the vessel (two diesel engines are coupled to drive each propulsion
unit).  The two diesel engines driving the Staten Island end propulsion unit
stopped at the time of or immediately following the collision.  The engines
were not stopped manually by the crew.  The New York end cycloidal
propulsion unit was still being driven and operating at 50 to 60% ahead
thrust after the accident.

Preliminary results of post accident testing of the Staten Island and New
York end propulsion systems indicated that the Staten Island end
propulsion unit operated satisfactorily, while the New York end propulsion
unit was not responding properly to commands from the Staten Island end
wheelhouse.  Following a propulsion control system assessment, the
investigation team was able to replicate the control issue on the New York
end propulsion unit.  Certain propulsion control components on the New
York end propulsion unit were identified as possibly defective and
replaced.  After replacement, preliminary dockside testing showed the
propulsion unit to be working properly.  Investigators sent the removed
propulsion control components and oil samples to NTSB headquarters for
further analysis.

Following structural and mechanical repairs to the propulsion system,
multiple sea trials have been conducted under the regulatory oversight of
the Coast Guard and American Bureau of Shipping, a classification society
that is responsible for development and verification of standards for the
design, construction and operational maintenance of marine vessels.
Investigators from the NTSB also attended the initial sea trial in early


NTSB Media Contact: Terry N. Williams
                        (202) 314-6100

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