No Pollution or Serious Injuries Reported in Massachusetts Commuter Ferries Collision

A collision between two Boston-based commuter ferries prompted a response from the U.S. Coast Guard and local Bay State authorities on Tuesday. The two vessels, identified as the commuter ferries Massachusetts and Laura, collided in Boston Harbor about one mile from Long Island Bridge during the regular morning commute at about 7:30 AM. There were no reports of serious injuries or pollution as a result of the incident.

At the time of the incident, the Massachusetts, with 151 people aboard, was reportedly inbound to Rowes Wharf from Hingham, MA, and the Laura, a 101-foot vessel with four people aboard, was outbound from Boston Harbor. A press release issued by the U.S. Coast Guard Station Boston reported that it had launched two 25-foot rescue boats, both of which arrived on scene within minutes of the collision. Both vessels later returned safely to their respective home ports and were temporarily removed from service.

Although both vessels experienced some damage above the water line, neither took on water. The Coast Guard requested ambulances to meet Massachusetts at the pier as a precaution. Additionally, a Coast Guard Auxiliary and First Coast Guard District employee was commuting to work aboard Massachusetts and assisted fellow commuters by handing out life jackets. According to Coast Guard accounts, the Massachusetts experienced a smashed starboard side window at the bow.

At the time of the collision, visibility in Boston Harbor was reportedly poor, with fog enveloping most of the greater Boston area. Coast Guard Sector Boston is investigating the cause of the collision. There was no immediate report on how fast either of the two boats was traveling when they made contact. Both vessels are said to be privately owned, but under contract to the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority.

A Coast Guard spokesman in Boston told MarEx today that both vessels were fitted with RADAR and GPS, but he could not yet confirm if either or both vessels had these systems operating at the time of the incident. He refused to speculate on the cause of the accident, citing the ongoing nature of the investigation, but did say, "We were very, very fortunate that there were no serious injuries involved with this collision."

Photo: Coast Guard Petty Officer 2nd Class Kevin Sullivan, of Station Boston, responds after the ferry Massachusetts and the ferry Laura collide near Boston harbor today. U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class Lauren Downs