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125 evacuated, one injury after Seastreak ferry runs aground in Brooklyn

A Seastreak ferry ran aground at the Bushwick Inlet in Brooklyn around 4:15 pm on June 5.
Friends of Bushwick Inlet Park

Investigators are examining what caused a Seastreak ferry carrying more than 100 passengers to run aground in Brooklyn on Saturday afternoon, injuring one crew member.

The boat got stuck in the shallow Bushwick Inlet at Franklin and Quay streets in Greenpoint just after 4:15 p.m. on June 5 due to a mechanical issue, according to the Fire Department’s Deputy Assistant Chief Michael Gala.

The ferry’s captain lost engine and steering control out in the East River and the boat drifted into the inlet and went aground, damaging one of hits hulls in the process, Seastreak vice president Thomas Wynne told amNewYork Metro. 

The company rep said they did not yet know the cause of the engine failure. 

FDNY and the Police Department rescued 118 stranded passengers and seven crew, and one staff member was brought to NYU Langone Hospital due to heat exhaustion. 

Fire Department boats were able to get there within four minutes due to a jet ski incident further down the East River, according to the fire chief, and first responders shipped the remaining passengers to safety at the nearby Brooklyn Navy Yard.

The stranded vessel from above.NYPD

The boat partially submerged and salvage company Miller’s Launch were able to patch the hull and re-float it, and plan to transport it to the North River Shipyard in Nyack sometime Sunday, according to a spokesman for the United States Coast Guard.

Most of the passengers aboard had spent the day at Sandy Hook beach in New Jersey, and the private ferry company was en route to East 35th Street in Manhattan when the mishap happened, according to Wynne. 

One local parks steward said the wrecked vessel in the shallow inlet made for quite the sight.

“It looked pretty dramatic to see it up close,” said Steve Chesler, a co-chairperson of Friends of Bushwick Inlet Park, which helps manage the adjacent greenspace. “It’s this fragile ecosystem there and there’s this massive boat coming in.”

The Greenpoint resident said the cove is usually frequented by kayaks or canoes, but not such large watercraft.

FDNY and NYPD personnel save stranded passengers.NYPD

The maritime fiasco is the third time a ferry crashed in the East River in as many months.

On April 23 an NYC Ferry became wedged between a dock and the esplanade on East 34th Street due to strong currents and had to be tugged free by another boat.

On the night of May 13, another NYC Ferry got into a seaborne snafu had to be evacuated after a flooding tide pushed the city commuter vessel into a construction barge at Brooklyn Bridge Park, smashing windows, but luckily injuring none of the 27 riders aboard.

Water rescues are only likely to become more common as New Yorkers take to the water this summer, said FDNY’s Gala.

“As the weather gets warmer there’ll be more vessels on the water, there are jet skis on the water, there are swimmers in the waters,” he said at a press briefing Saturday evening. “Certainly during the warmer weather our activity on our beautiful waterfronts we have a lot of activities on the waterfronts and we do have boats in distress, people in distress and yes as summer approaches we can expect to see more incidents along the waterfront.”

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