Faulty Valve Caused 2010 Staten Island Ferry Crash: NTSB

The vessel slammed into a pier when the pilot couldn't get the ferry to slow down and several people were injured

Tuesday, Apr 24, 2012  |  Updated 3:26 PM EDT
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One of the passengers on the <a title=Staten Island ferry that crashed captured the hectic scene as emergency personnel rush to help victims." />

Dwayne Forrest

One of the passengers on the Staten Island ferry that crashed captured the hectic scene as emergency personnel rush to help victims.

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A faulty valve caused a Staten Island ferry accident that injured several people and caused minor damage two years ago, National Transportation Safety Board investigators said Tuesday.

Investigators said the malfunction caused the pilot to lose control of one of the vessel's two propellers as it approached Staten Island on May 8, 2010. The vessel slammed into a pier when the pilot couldn't get the ferry to slow down. Out of the 266 passengers and crew aboard the ferry, three were seriously injured and more than 40 reported minor injuries.

The crash was not the first for the vessel, the Andrew J. Barberi. Eleven people died when the same ferry crashed into the same pier in 2003 after its pilot passed out at the wheel.

NTSB Chairwoman Deborah Hersman said the New York City Department of Transportation showed a renewed commitment to safety after that accident and "implemented an industry-leading safety-management system."

"The bad news is that the Barberi experienced an unanticipated and unusual failure in its propulsion system," Hersman said. "The good news is that no lives were lost and our investigation showed positive safety improvements following the 2003 accident."

The five-member NTSB board approved investigators' report on the crash at a meeting Tuesday in Washington.

NTSB staff members said the Barberi was not equipped with an alarm system that might have warned crew members that the propeller was stuck and was not responding to controls. The board recommended that passenger vessels with similar propulsion systems be equipped with such alarms.

The board also recommended that passenger vessels implement safety management systems such as the one that was in place at the Staten Island Ferry in 2010.

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