Statue of Liberty ferry strikes dock after both engines failed; 9 people reported injured

The U.S. Coast Guard is investigating why the engines on a Statue of Liberty ferry shut down, allowing the vessel to crash into a dock.

Nine people aboard Miss New Jersey reported minor injuries after the accident on Aug. 27, 2013, according to the Coast Guard and National Park Service. Statue Cruises, which runs the ferry, said 497 passengers and nine crewmembers were on the vessel.

Coast Guard spokesman Charles Rowe said there had been no determination yet on any potential enforcement actions.

Chief Warrant Officer Jim Gillette, the lead Coast Guard investigator, said the ferry left Battery Park at the lower tip of Manhattan at 1455 and headed at 12 knots for Liberty Island’s T-shaped work dock to unload passengers.

“As they were getting close, they went to slow down,” Gillette said. “They had both engines running and the captain moved the throttles back, and both engines shut down. At that point the captain had to make choices. He had the first officer there with him. They attempted to start the engines.”

The captain felt he could not stop in time to tie up at the top of the T part of the dock as usual so he headed for the longer leg of the T. The ferry struck the dock on the port side near the bow while traveling 4 to 5 knots and bounced off the dock. “They were able to restart the engines and get back to the top of the T and offloaded passengers,” Gillette said.

Park Service emergency medical technicians immediately arrived on the scene and treated visitors who reported scratches, bruises and one sprained ankle. All continued their tours of Liberty Island afterward.

Visitor services were minimally affected after the incident, the park service said. All ferries docked at a temporary barge located near the visitor dock, which remains under repair after Hurricane Sandy. The temporary barge normally served passengers from New Jersey.

The engine manufacturer sent a technician to adjust a microprocessor on the engines that monitors operational parameters, Gillette said.

The estimated damage to the vessel was about $15,000, Gillette said, and the pier about $50,000.

The park service said the dock, which had been rebuilt after Sandy, reopened several days after the accident following an inspection by engineers from the Federal Highway Administration. Officials said the fender system on the dock prevented significant damage.

Richard Paine, spokesman for Statue Cruises, said, “this incident is currently under USCG investigation. We have no further details to share at this time other than a few visitors received minor scrapes and bruises at the landing area, mostly due to crowd movement.”

By Professional Mariner Staff