By the time the captain of Seastreak Wall Street realised he’d lost control of the vessel it was too late to prevent the vessel colliding with a Manhattan pier at about 12 knots on the morning of January 9, 2013. Of the 331 people on board, 79 passengers and one crewmember were injured, four of them seriously, in the third significant ferry accident to occur in the New York Harbor area in the last 10 years.
The intended maneouvre was a common one among those commanding the Seastreak fleet: Reduce speed and transfer control from one bridge station to another better visibility less than a minute before reaching Pier 11/Wall Street on the East River. However, it left little opportunity to correct a loss of control at a critical moment.
The incident had been waiting to happen since July 2012 when a controllable pitch propulsion system was installed to replace the existing water-jet propulsion along with a poorly designed control panel and alert system, “The available visual and audible cues to indicate mode and control transfer status were ambiguous” says the NTSB.