No buyers: Staten Island Ferry involved in deadly crash goes unsold at city surplus auction

The city has extended a surplus auction for an old Staten Island Ferry, the Andrew J. Barberi, after no one placed a bid.
VillageHero via Wikimedia Commons

Not a soul has put up a bid on a decommissioned, infamous Staten Island Ferry boat involved in a deadly crash 20 years ago. 

The Department of Citywide Administrative Services (DCAS) put the Andrew J. Barberi, which was decommissioned last year after 40 years in service, up for auction last month, with bids starting at $155,000 for the historic orange boat. Bidding was set to end on May 27.

But DCAS has now extended the auction for an additional 14 days because so far, no one has expressed any interest in owning the 310-foot vessel, a spokesperson for the agency confirmed to amNewYork Metro. The starting bid has also been lowered to just $100,000.

If the ferry is still not sold at the end of the current two-week auction period on June 17, DCAS will follow up with DOT on next steps, the spokesperson said.

The Barberi has a storied history, and not necessarily the good kind. In October 2003, the 3,300-ton Barberi smashed at full speed into a concrete pier near the St. George terminal, killing 11 people and injuring 70 more.

The pilot, Richard J. Smith, had passed out at the helm under the influence of prescription painkillers, and abandoned ship after the crash; he pled guilty and was sentenced to 18 months in prison. Meanwhile, the ferry director, Patrick Ryan, was sentenced to a year and a day behind bars for not enforcing a rule requiring two pilots at the helm during docking.

The Barberi crashed once again in May 2010, plowing into a pedestrian bridge at St. George terminal. The National Transportation Safety Board determined this crash was due to problems with the vessel’s propulsion equipment.

The Andrew J. Barberi sits in dock.NYC DCAS

There are a few other possible reasons why the city is having trouble selling the Barberi.

For one, the vessel is not in working order, and any buyer will have to pour money into fixing it up.

What’s more, the last decommissioned Staten Island Ferry auctioned off, the John F. Kennedy, was sold for $280,000 to Pete Davidson and Colin Jost, the Saturday Night Live comedians who both hail from Staten Island. The funnymen boasted of grand plans to turn the ferry into a huge entertainment venue, replete with bars, clubs, restaurants, and outdoor event space.

But while the pair insist their plans are still in the pipeline, two years later the JFK remains unoccupied at a dock in the Kill van Kull. Nonetheless, DOT first advertised the Barberi auction by suggesting Davidson and Jost buy a second boat.

The ship was named in honor of Andrew J. Barberi, the beloved former football coach at Staten Island’s Curtis High School who passed away before the vessel’s maiden voyage in 1981.

The Barberi sustained heavy damage after crashing into a pier in 2003, killing 11 people and injuring 70 more.United States Coast Guard