A high-speed commuter ferry that crashed into a lower Manhattan dock had recently undergone a major overhaul that gave it new engines and a new propulsion system, but officials said it was too soon to tell whether they played any role in the morning rush hour incident that left  93 people hurt including 11 seriously injured.


The Seastreak ferry following an early morning ferry accident during rush hour in Lower Manhattan (Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

The catamaran Seastreak Wall Street had slowed following a routine trip across New York Bay and past the Statue of Liberty Wednesday morning when the impact took place, hurling scores of people to the deck or into the walls. Around 70 people suffered minor injuries.

The Wall Street has been taken back to a Seastreak dock in New Jersey according to WABC TV.


The naval architecture firm that designed the reconfiguration, Incat Crowther, said in an August news release that the ferry's water-jet propulsion system had been replaced with a new system of propellers and rudders to save fuel costs and cut carbon dioxide pollution in half. James Barker, the chairman of the ferry's owner, Seastreak LLC, said the overhaul made it "the greenest ferry in America."

The hull was reworked, and the boat was made 15 metric tons lighter. At top speed, the ferry, built in 2003, travels at around 35 knots, or 40 mph.

The New York Post in its print edition reports the propulsion system has caused "problems" for many of the Seastreak's captains since it started being used last summer.

Seastreak spokesman Bob Dorn, asked whether the work had hurt the ferry's maneuverability or caused pilots any problems, said it would be up to the National Transportation Safety Board to determine if the new equipment played any role.

Seastreak President  James Barker told WABC TV, "We are simply shocked and stunned that this happened. We know passengers rely on us for transportation and safe transportation and we are very sorry this accident occurred."

The National Transportation Safety Board says their investigation begins this morning. "We are here to find out what happened so we can prevent it from happening again," said the NTSB's Robert Sumwalt.

"Top Notch" Captain

Ferry accident at Pier 11 in Lower Manhattan (WNBC TV)

Officials identified the captain as Jason Reimer, an experienced seaman. In a 2004 profile in Newsday, Reimer said he had joined Seastreak as a deckhand in 1997 and became a captain three years later at age 23. Barker called him "a great guy."

He also received praise from fellow boat captains. Commercial fishing-boat captain Rob Hrbek described Reimer as “top notch" to the New York Post. He is “absolutely the most qualified captain that Seastreak has,” according to Hrbek.

Reimer refused comment on the incident as he arrived at his Red Bank home according to WABC TV.

The Seastreak Wall Street has been in minor accidents before. Coast Guard records said the ferry hit a cluster of fender piles while docking in 2010, punching a small hole in the ship's skin. In 2009, it suffered another tear on the bow after another minor docking collision. No one was injured in either of those mishaps.

The NTSB said it had yet to interview the captain.

The Associated Press contributed to this report