NY/NJ Port Authority Harbor Police Boat Carrying 10 Officers Sinks; Operator Error to Blame

Posted in Maritime Accidents,Maritime Law,New York Maritime News on September 18, 2012

NEW YORK — The media reports that a NY/NJ Port Authority Harbor Police boat carrying 10 officers sank in the cold waters off of Breezy Point in New York on Sunday, September 9. Operator error is being sited as the cause.

NY / NJ Port Authority Vessel sinks off of Breezy Point. All officers safely left the vessel.

According to reports, seven of the officers were already in the water training for their water-rescue certification when the 37-foot craft started sinking at 4:30 p.m. The rest of the passengers were quickly forced to abandon ship. Those in the water swam some 300 feet to shore; the rest were picked up by an FDNY marine unit after transferring themselves and some gear to a life raft.

While the New York Post, and others, speculated that the NY/NJ Port Authority vessel had struck a jetty or some other underwater obstruction, Moose Boats quickly sent a letter to customers explaining what happened and providing a warning to other operators:

“The cause of the vessel’s sinking was a result of the crew removing the Hamilton Jet impeller inspection hatch in an attempt to cut free a suspected line caught in the impeller,” the letter reads. “The impeller inspection hatch is below the water line by several inches is only intended for servicing access with the vessel out of the water.

“The crew were unable to replace the impeller inspection hatch cover due to the large volume of the water entering the engine compartment through the open impeller inspection port. There were 10 personnel weighting the cockpit area thereby increasing the flow of the water into the hull. The watertight Freeman deck hatch on the swim grid may have remained removed creating a full flood condition of the hull as the buoyancy diminished resulting in the vessel sinking.”

“I saw some of the guys trying to bail water out of the back of the boat, which looked unusual,” said Mark Egan, 53, who was sitting on the beach with his wife when they saw the boat go down around 4 p.m.

“It happened so quickly — the boat just went up on a 90-degree angle.”

The incident remains under investigation at this time.

Source: NY Post

Posted by maritime injury lawyer Gordon, Elias & Seely, LLP