Ferry crew rescues 3 after lift boat keels over in New York Harbor


The U.S. Coast Guard is investigating why a lift boat carrying a crane truck rolled onto its side as it was preparing to leave Liberty Island in New York Harbor.

The square-bowed Katherine G rolled over on its port side at about 0945 on April 6. The vessel, owned by Warren George Inc. of Jersey City, N.J., had loaded the crane truck that had been used in restoration of the Statue of Liberty and was preparing to get underway when it capsized, said the Coast Guard investigating officer, Lt. Colleen Smith.

“They had loaded a three-axle crane truck on board and when they were picking up three spuds — two at the bow and one at the stern — she lost her stability and keeled over onto her port side 90 degrees,” Smith said. The crane fell off.

There were six people on board: three crewmembers, a park police officer, a construction company employee and an employee of the company that owned the crane truck. One suffered a minor knee injury. Three of them were able to remain on board, and three were thrown into the water.

The NY Waterway ferry Father Mychal Judge rescued three men from the lift boat. The same ferry captain was involved in the “Miracle on the Hudson” response that followed the ditch-landing by US Airways Flight 1549 in 2009. Mohamed Gouda, 33, of Jersey City, said he was passing the Statue of Liberty when he saw the lift boat start to heel.

“The boat listed very, very quickly,” Gouda said. He moved his ferry, which was New Jersey-bound and not carrying passengers, toward the stricken vessel. Gouda and ferry deck hand Marquis Mainor used a Jason’s Cradle to rescue the lift boat’s captain, deck hand and police officer from the water.

The crane truck was salvaged by Weeks Marine the following day, Smith said. Katherine G was righted and pumped out and towed away the day after that.

She said the company planned to scrap the vessel because of the amount of water damage. One of the spuds was bent.
“There was no significant pollution,” she said.

The investigation is ongoing but centers on the stability of the 58-foot lift boat — built in 1981 with a gross tonnage of 811 — and the weight of the crane truck, 55 tons, Smith said.

Warren George Inc. did not respond to a call for comment.

By Professional Mariner Staff