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Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Staten Island Ferry Crash - Sounds Fishy....

An NTSB investigation into the Staten Island Ferry crash continues. As I said in an earlier blog entry, they're looking into a mechanical failure, but so far there's no evidence of such a failure. The chief engineer reports all systems were normal up to and immediately following the incident. Meanwhile, an AP Story claims NTSB investigators have seen no evidence of criminal wrongdoing on the part of the bridge crew as the ferry approached the terminal.

What I'd like to know is:

1. Does this ferry have engine controls at the bridge or are engine commands sent through an old style telegraph? I'm thinking a modern ferry in NYC will have the former. If so, it should be obvious if the crew attempted to slow the vessel as it approached.

2. When the allision was imminent, did the captain sound the general alarm or announce to his passengers over the PA to hold tight and prepare for a crash? Or did the captain and crew just stand up there saying to themselves, "Are we slowing down or not?"

3. Why does the ferry have a captain, assistant captain and a mate? What exactly is an assistant captain?

4. Why does the Staten Island Ferry approach the terminal at such a rate of speed. If this had been the only time this accident had occurred I wouldn't ask this question, but this is the second time this ferry has hit the terminal; the first time, in 2003, it was because the captain had passed out on drugs.

5. An AP Story reports Mayor Bloomberg saying that the captain and assistant captain (whatever that is) were taking turns at the helm in order to "make sure each gained experience in the position." [AP quote, not Bloomberg quote.]

What exactly does this mean? Were the captain and assistant captain so inexperienced they needed additional wheel time? Was the assistant captain really a mariner with a mate's license in a training program to be captain? Were both needing wheel time for a given route or tonnage? This doesn't make much sense. What reason would there be for two men to trade places at the helm other than a coffee or cigarette break or when one needs the other to take over for a difficult piloting or navigational maneuver?


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