Seastreak ferry had undergone major conversion

seastreak-engine changeJANUARY 10, 2013—New York City morning newscasts today showed the ferry Seastreak Wall Street under tow away from Manhattan's Pier 11 following the hard docking incident yesterday in which a total of 74 passengers were injured.

Meantime, the NTSB investigation of the incident continues. Something that is sure to come under scrutiny is what role, if any, in the accident may have been played by last year's conversion of the vessel from waterjet to propeller propulsion (see earlier story).

The vessel was launched in 2003 and is the third of four sister vessels built by Gladding-Hearn Shipbuilding, Somerset, MA.

As we reported last August, the original propulsion package was chosen with emphasis on speed for the Atlantic Highlands to Manhattan service, delivering speeds in excess of 38 knots and four-engine redundancy, with four Cummins KTA50 main engines, each producing 1,424 kW powering four KaMeWa A50 water jets.

Over time, the operating costs of the four-engine drivetrain, changes to the vessels’ schedules and the age of the main machinery led the operator to request an investigation by designer Incat Crowther into repowering options.

That led to the selection of a pair of MTU 16V4000M53 engines and, taking into account the operating profile of the vessel, it was deemed that Servogear controllable pitch propellers would offer a significant fuel savings at the vessel’s 32 knot operating speed.

Incat Crowther provided a comprehensive design service, preparing detailed drawings and documentation including revised Coast Guard submissions. Following a competitive tender process, the contract to perform the modification was awarded to Midship Marine of Louisiana.

Investigators will likely be looking at whether any of the hardware or involved in the extensive conversion suffered a failure and at whether changes to the vessel's handling characteristics after the repower were in any way involved.

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