WASHINGTON – The National Transportation Safety Board’s latest update on the ongoing investigation into the Jan. 9 Seastreak Wall Street hi-speed ferry incident in New York City reveals a focus on the vessels new propulsion machinery and the possibility of an allision with an underwater obstruction.
A NTSB release says that the engine manufacturer (MTU) arrived on-scene following the accident and investigators were able to download alarm and parametric data stored on engine control modules in each of the two engine compartments, as well as retrieved video from several onboard cameras to be analyzed. The release adds that investigators also tested the vessel’s steering systems and the tests were satisfactory.
Last weekend, the investigative team started to conduct static testing of the main engines and control systems. They also conducted an underwater survey of the vessel which revealed damage to the port propeller, but a more complete hull survey will be conducted when the vessel is hauled from the water for repairs. Also, at the request of the NTSB, the Army Corps of Engineers will conduct a bottom survey of the approach to Pier 11 to determine if there are any underwater approach obstructions.
Earlier last week, the controllable pitch propeller manufacturer (Servogear) arrived and worked with investigators to conduct testing of the propulsion system controls. In August 2012, Incat Crowther completed a re-fit of the Seastreak Wall Street, installing new engines and new controllable pitch propellers to replace the vessels original jet drives. These modifications reduced the vessel’s overall weight and reduced the top speed from 38 to 35 knots.
Investigators continue to conduct testing and review the data to determine what, if any, impact the modifications may have had on the Seastreak Wall Street’s performance and response.
NTSB investigators have also interviewed the U.S. Coast Guard personnel who inspected the Seastreak Wall Street in July 2012, after the modifications were completed. The inspectors indicated that they found the modifications satisfactory and issued a temporary Certificate of Inspection, certifying that the vessel has been inspected and that it is in conformance with the applicable vessel inspection laws and regulations. The COI also sets forth the conditions, routes, and manning under which a vessel may operate.
Additionally, NTSB investigators have made contact with 25 of the injured passengers and conducted interviews with 13 regarding what they observed during the accident. More witness interviews are being conducted and investigators are continuing to contact additional passengers from the ferry.