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NTSB continues ferry investigation in New York

The National Transportation Safety Board released an update on the ongoing investigation into the Jan. 9 crash of the Seastreak Wall Street Ferry in New York that injured dozens.

The engine manufacturer arrived at the accident scene last Friday and investigators were able to download alarm and parametric data stored on engine control modules in each of the two engine compartments, the NTSB announced.

In addition, investigators retrieved video from several onboard cameras. All of this information is being analyzed. Investigators also tested the vessel’s steering systems, finding everything in satisfactory working order.

The ferry captain told NTSB investigators that he couldn't control the engines and they stalled as he tried to dock during morning rush hour, the Associated Press reported.

During the weekend the investigative team started to conduct static testing of the main engines and control systems, the NTSB announced.

Investigators also conducted an underwater survey of the vessel that revealed damage to the port propeller. A more complete hull survey will be conducted when the vessel is hauled from the water for repairs. Also, at the request of the NTSB, the Army Corps of Engineers will conduct a bottom survey of the approach to Pier 11 to determine whether there are any underwater approach obstructions.

NTSB investigators have made contact with 25 of more than 70 injured passengers and conducted interviews with 13 regarding what they observed during the accident. More witness interviews are being conducted, and investigators are continuing to contact passengers from the ferry.

Earlier this week, the controllable pitch propeller manufacturer arrived and worked with investigators to conduct testing of the propulsion system controls. In 2012, the Seastreak Wall Street had new engines and new controllable pitch propellers installed. These modifications reduced the vessel’s overall weight and reduced the top speed from 38 to 35 knots.

Investigators continue to conduct testing and review the data to determine what, if any, impact these modifications may have had on the Seastreak Wall Street's performance and response. NTSB investigators also have interviewed the Coast Guard personnel who inspected the Seastreak Wall Street in July 2012 after the modifications were completed.

The inspectors indicated that they found the modifications satisfactory and issued a temporary inspection certificate, certifying that the vessel has been inspected and that it is in conformance with the applicable vessel inspection laws and regulations. The Corps of Engineers also sets forth the conditions, routes and manning under which a vessel may operate.

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