Coast Guard Sector New York has returned to service 18 of the 23 New York Waterway ferries that had been initially suspended for a series of safety concerns in the week leading up to the Thanksgiving Holiday.
Five ferries remain out of service and, says the Coast Guard, to ensure continued compliance with safety standards, it will be indefinitely increasing inspections across the entire New York Waterway fleet.
“The safety of the passengers that ride these ferries is our top priority,” said Capt. Jason Tama, commander of Coast Guard Sector New York. “We expect passenger vessels to be in compliance with safety standards and ready for inspection at all times. We know many people rely on these ferries for their daily commutes, and we will continue to work with New York Waterway to ensure sustained compliance with Coast Guard safety requirements. As part of this effort, we will be increasing both scheduled and unannounced inspections of their fleet moving forward.”
Coast Guard Sector New York marine inspectors determined the impacted ferries had damage or discrepancies significant enough to warrant suspension of operations. Findings included inoperable fixed fire extinguishing systems and bilge alarms; expired lifesaving equipment; and structural damage affecting watertight integrity.
Coast Guard Sector New York oversees approximately 200 ferries operating within the greater New York City area. The region’s multiple ferry systems carry tens of millions of passengers annually, making it one of the busiest ferry networks in the world.
Passenger vessels are required to undergo at least one annual safety inspection, as well as an out of water hull inspection at least every two years to ensure the integrity of the hull and other critical components. In addition to these scheduled inspections, Coast Guard personnel also conduct unannounced and post-casualty response inspections to ensure compliance with safety standards.