Ferry Goes Aground Near New York Harbor
At 1800 hours Wednesday evening, a passenger vessel under contract to NYC Ferry ran aground on a sandbar in Coney Island Channel. The grounding left 24 passengers stranded for hours in sub-freezing temperatures, forcing local authorities to launch the second rescue for the ferry service in a month.
The New York fire department, police department and the Coast Guard responded to the scene. The water over the sandbar was so shallow – as little as two feet deep, according to the NYPD – that the rescuers had to use inflatable launches to reach the ferry, then load the passengers and cerry them over to a fire department vessel for transfer to shore. The evolution took until 2300 hours to complete.
NYPD responders maneuver an inflatable launch at the shallow grounding site (NYPD)
“It was difficult because they had to climb down a 12’ straight ladder, down the back of the ferry, onto our boat, then transferred onto several different boats," FDNY Chief of Special Operations John Esposito said. "It was a very slow, tedious, time-consuming operation, with safety in mind.”
No injuries were reported, and the passengers were offered complimentary transportation to their destinations. As of Thursday, the vessel's AIS showed her at Julius Peterson Boat Works, a small shipyard on the Hudson.
"Our focus is always on the safety of our riders, and we truly appreciate the support of the USCG, FDNY, and NYPD for their assistance with safely transporting our riders off of the vessel last night," a spokesperson for NYC Ferry said in a statement Thursday. "While preliminary information indicates the vessel was off route, that’s something investigators will look at during the investigation."
The grounding was the second instance for a NYC Ferry in a month. On November 27, a separate vessel bound for the Rockaways went aground on an underwater construction debris field on November 11, just 100 yards off Pier 11 at Wall Street. 100 passengers were safely evacuated, and fire chief John Sarrocco told local TV news that the vessel suffered minor hull damage.