The ferry boat that struck a submerged pylon in the East River Monday evening, stranding more than 120 people in the water, had gotten stuck in an area of the river known to be an issue, authorities said Tuesday.
The Zelinsky ferry boat, owned and run by private operator Hornblower, was leaving the Pier 11 / Wall Street ferry terminal for the Rockaways at about 5:15 p.m. Monday when it became stuck off Pier 11, according to officials.
"The area where it got stuck is a known area in the river, it's referred to as a pile field. It's been there for some time," said James Patchett, head of the Economic Development Corporation, the city government agency that oversees ferry service.
"It's well known. It's not generally been an issue, but it's known by captains to be an issue and it depends on the tides," said Patchett.
All passengers on board the boat were relocated safely back to Pier 11 by 7 p.m., then were transferred to two other Rockaway-bound vessels, finally arriving at their destination by about 8 p.m.
None of the 114 passengers and seven crew members aboard were hurt, according to authorities.
Passengers reported feeling the impact when the boat hit the underwater object.
"The boat just started trembling a little bit," said Luke Miszczuk. "The captain said we were stuck in the mud because of low tide."
The boat remained stuck until about 3 a.m., when at high tide, a tugboat was able to take the Zelinsky boat to Pier 15. It remained afloat there Tuesday morning. The boat will be evaluated there, and if it needs significant repairs, will be brought to a shipyard, Patchett said.
The EDC is investigating the cause of the impact.
"We will be looking at all of the issues, including the captain, as part of our investigation," said Patchett.
"We've heard the reports about the timing of phone calls to emergency response. We take the issue very seriously," he said. "We expect our operator and the captain to alert emergency responders as soon as is necessary, and we'll be looking at that as part of our investigation."
The boat was a backup vessel that was used while the regular boat on the route was taken out of service for routine maintenance. Patchett said the backup boat is used periodically and has safely run the Rockaway route a number of times.
Ferries were running normally to Pier 11 from Rockaway during the Tuesday morning rush. Gloria Creech of Far Rockaway said she had no reservations about taking her usual boat because it's the "best way of getting here."