California ferry strikes piling while backing; 12 sustain minor injuries

A San Francisco ferry being operated by the fleet’s safety officer struck a piling while backing out of Pier 41, injuring 12 passengers.

The 107-foot Peralta, operated by Blue and Gold Fleet, was en route to Oakland-Alameda when the incident occurred at 1745 on Oct. 12, the U.S. Coast Guard reported. The boat was carrying 236 passengers and four crewmembers.

Lt. Cmdr. Jon Lane, chief of the Marine Investigations Division at Coast Guard Sector San Francisco, said two of the injured passengers were treated at the scene and released, and 10 were taken to a hospital for further examination. The injuries were limited to “bumps, cuts and bruises,” Lane said, with none requiring treatment beyond first aid.

Lane said a Coast Guard inspector found no structural damage to the pier or the ferry, which resumed service the next day. 

A preliminary investigation determined there was no misconduct or negligence by the captain. The Coast Guard did not determine a cause because a full investigation was not required.

Skies were clear when the incident occurred, with 5- to 10-knot winds and current variable in an ebbing tide, Lane said.

Sue Muzzin, a spokeswoman for Blue and Gold Fleet, said the captain who was in command of Peralta is the fleet’s training captain and safety officer. He has been with the company for about 15 years, she said.

“Sometimes when you’re backing up, your perception is a bit off, so I think he just misjudged it a bit,” Muzzin said. “All of the (company’s) safety measures were followed. We worked closely with the Coast Guard in their investigation and we also conducted our own investigation. There was nothing that came out of that.”

Damage to the ferry was “all very cosmetic, a little chipped paint,” she said. No mechanical problems were reported with the vessel before the incident.

Lane said drug and alcohol tests were administered to crewmembers at the request of Blue and Gold Fleet, per company policy. All of the results were negative. 

By Professional Mariner Staff