N.Y. ferry runs aground while assessing safe water route to airport

U.S. Coast Guard investigators have concluded that operator error led to a ferry running aground south of John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York.

The 65-foot SeaStreak ferry Ocean State on May 28 was in the area looking for possible landing places for a potential ferry service to the airport. It drifted out of Winhole Channel near Jamaica Bay and went hard aground around 1200, damaging its two propellers, said the investigating officer, Lt. Cmdr. Bill Grossman.

“It was a fairly benign incident,” he said. “The vessel was drifting and got blown into the shoal area outside the channel.”

“They were doing some research on places to pick up and drop off passengers” at JFK, he said. “The captain had cut back on the throttles and was drifting and lost some situational awareness. The outgoing tide and the wind blew them out of the channel and into the shoaling area. The propellers bumped bottom and when he pulled back on the throttles he realized he was hard aground.”

The draft forward is 4 feet and 6 feet aft.

A New York City fireboat came alongside and removed the 25 passengers and transported them to a pier in Rockaway Park. The four crew remained on board and waited until about 1800 for the tide to come back in and refloat the boat.

The vessel went into dry dock at Gordon’s Marine on Staten Island for a hull inspection, Grossman said. Both damaged propellers were replaced. After the incident, the agency checked the aids to navigation in the area and found all on station. The ferry company did not respond to a call for comment.

By Professional Mariner Staff