From the Coach – A statue would have done just fine

Andrew J. Barberi was an American high school football coach; in 1981, New York City chose to name their newest passenger ferry between Manhattan and Long Island after him, to celebrate his long dedication to the community. Little did they know at the time, that the vessel would become quite well known in its own right.

In 2003 the Andrew J. Barberi, with 1500 passengers on board, plowed into a maintenance pier on the Long Island side of the 25 minute crossing. That accident cost the lives of 11 people and injured a further 70; and the city paid out $54 million dollars in compensation. That accident resulted in the heightened awareness by regulators, to the issue of medical fitness for professional seafarers. The scrutiny of our medical fitness seems to have dramatically increased since then, especially in the Untied States, and also in Canada.

On May 8, 2010, the vessel once again drew the attention of regulators, when it slammed into its Long Island berth at a high rate of speed. Although there were no deaths this time, 40 people suffered injuries, one person was listed as critical. The preliminary report from the National Transportation Safety Board cited a bad part in one of the propulsion’s hydraulic control circuit.

Unfortunately, this is not the first time the Andrew J. Barberi has run into the St George Pier for mechanical reasons. The ferry first took offense with the pier, on April 12th 1995, when another mechanical failure happened. An alert terminal attendant at the time, was credited with averting severe casualties by operating the bridge so as to minimize the ferries impact.

A recently released US Coast Guard Lessons Learned bulletin sheds a bit more light on the most recent accident. Seems the Voith Schneider propulsion units, installed on the Andrew J. Barberi, suffered a lack of love by its engineers. The oil and its filtration system were rarely, if ever, maintained, and as a result the hydraulic system was contaminated. The spool valves were therefore sticking, resulting in sluggish and or unresponsive, eventually causing the propulsion unit to not respond to helm commands.

Bottom line, give the machines some love – or at least include them in your planned maintenance system. Also, note to New York City DOT, keep that Barberi ship away from the St George berth – it seems to have an aversion to it.

You can read the NTSB preliminary report here, you can see the USCG’s lessons learned bulletin here. You can find a news story here, about the most recent incident. Pictures of the ship and St George Terminal from online sources.

Andrew J. Barberi
IMO number: 7702762
Owner: City of New York
Operator: Staten Island Ferry/City of New York
Flag : USA
Class : ABS
Builder: Equitable Equipment Company, Madisonville LA and New Orleans LA
Built: 1981
Class and type: Barberi Class passenger ferry
Tonnage: 3335
DWT : 592
Length: 310 ft 2 in (94.54 m)
Beam: 69 feet, 10 inches (21.3 m)
Draft: 13 feet, 6 inches (4.1 m)
Decks: 3
Installed power: 7,000 horsepower (5.2 MW)
Propulsion: Voith Schneider Propeller
Speed: 16 knots (30 km/h)
Capacity: 6 000 pax

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