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Safety Recommendation Details

Safety Recommendation M-02-014
Details
Synopsis: On the evening of November 17, 2000, the U.S. small passenger vessel Port Imperial Manhattan, with three crewmembers and eight passengers on board, was en route to Weehawken, New Jersey, from the borough of Manhattan in New York City, New York, when a fire broke out in the engine room. Crewmembers attempted to extinguish the fire with portable extinguishers, with no success. The fire burned out of control, causing the vessel to lose power and forcing the crew and passengers to abandon the interior spaces. The crew and passengers were rescued by another NY Waterway passenger vessel, and the burning vessel was towed to Manhattan, where the New York City Fire Department extinguished the fire. One passenger was treated for smoke inhalation. No deaths resulted from this accident. The estimated cost to repair the vessel was $1.2 million.
Recommendation: TO THE UNITED STATES COAST GUARD: Eliminate the waiver for verbal safety briefings and require that such briefings be given to passengers on all small passenger vessels.
Original recommendation transmittal letter: PDF
Overall Status: Closed - Unacceptable Action
Mode: Marine
Location: River, NY, United States
Is Reiterated: No
Is Hazmat: No
Is NPRM: No
Accident #: DCA01MM008
Accident Reports:
Fire on Board the Small Passenger Vessel Port Imperial Manhattan
Report #: MAR-02-02
Accident Date: 11/17/2000
Issue Date: 7/3/2002
Date Closed: 2/11/2008
Addressee(s) and Addressee Status: USCG (Closed - Unacceptable Action)
Keyword(s):

Safety Recommendation History
From: NTSB
To: USCG
Date: 2/22/2008
Response: The Safety Board notes the regulation that allows certain ferries to substitute bulkhead placards or signs for the safety orientation announcement was established because the Coast Guard recognized that attempting to comply with the safety orientation announcement requirements on short voyages would be impractical and unlikely to achieve the desired intent. The Safety Board is disappointed that the Coast Guard maintains its reasoning behind this allowance. In the case of the Port Imperial Manhattan, as in other several small passenger vessel accidents, passengers did not receive a verbal safety briefing before the voyage’s onset, and many passengers indicated that they did not realize the potential seriousness of the situation when they were asked to move to the outer deck. For more than 20 years, the Safety Board has been a proponent of safety briefings on all small passenger vessels, encouraging owners and/or operators to incorporate prevoyage verbal safety briefings to passengers into their operating procedures and asking the Coast Guard to make safety briefings mandatory. A verbal safety briefing serves multiple purposes. It informs the passengers about emergency procedures and refreshes the crewmembers’ understanding of those procedures. A briefing also gives passengers the opportunity to ask questions if they do not understand the procedures. Because the Coast Guard disagrees with the recommendation, intends no action, and requests that it be closed, Safety Recommendation M-02-14 is classified Closed Unacceptable Action. The Safety Board will continue to pursue this issue in future small passenger vessel accident investigations.

From: NTSB
To: USCG
Date: 4/7/2005
Response: The Safety Board notes that the regulation that allows certain ferries to substitute bulkhead placards or signs for the safety orientation announcement was established because the Coast Guard recognized that attempting to comply with the safety orientation announcement requirements on short voyages would be impractical and unlikely to achieve the desired intent. The Coast Guard maintains that the reasoning behind this allowance remains valid. In the Port Imperial Manhattan accident, passengers did not receive a verbal safety briefing before the voyage's onset. Several passengers indicated that they did not realize the potential seriousness of the situation when they were asked to move to the outer deck. Once on the foredeck, they discussed whether they needed lifejackets and what actions they might have to take. The Coast Guard had granted NY Waterway an exception from the requirement for verbal safety briefings to passengers at the onset of voyages because the trips of the company's vessels last less than 15 minutes. This exception did not eliminate the requirement for safety placards, and the Port Imperial Manhattan did have placards posted in the main cabin. For more than 20 years, the Safety Board has been a proponent of safety briefings on all small passenger vessels, encouraging owners and/or operators to incorporate prevoyage verbal safety briefings to passengers into their operating procedures and asking the Coast Guard to make safety briefings mandatory. A verbal safety briefing serves multiple purposes. It informs the passengers about emergency procedures and refreshes the crewmembers' understanding of those procedures. A briefing also gives passengers the opportunity to ask questions if they do not understand the procedures. The Safety Board maintains that basic safety information needs to be announced to passengers on any vessel before the onset of waterborne operations, regardless of the length and duration of a voyage. An emergency can arise at any moment while the vessel is underway, and receiving such information enables passengers to take basic initial actions for their own safety, including obtaining lifejackets for themselves and their children, donning the jackets, and assembling in the designated area. The Safety Board believes that vessel operators should not rely solely on passive notification such as posted placards to provide essential safety information to passengers, because passengers may not read placards before an emergency. A short verbal announcement, possibly prerecorded and transmitted over loudspeakers, can focus the attention of passengers on the basic safety information that they need to know in order to respond correctly in an emergency without crewmembers' having to take time away from other vessel operations. Accordingly, the Board continues to believe that the Coast Guard should eliminate the waiver for verbal safety briefings and require that such briefings be given to passengers on all small passenger vessels. Pending further response from the Coast Guard on this issue, Safety Recommendation M-02-14 is classified "Open--Unacceptable Response."

From: USCG
To: NTSB
Date: 11/21/2003
Response: Letter Mail Controlled 11/24/2003 12:14:53 PM MC# 2030577 We do not concur with this recammendation. The regulation that allows certain ferries to substitute bulkhead placards or signs for the safety orientation announcement was established because the Coast Guard recognized that attempting to comply with the safety orientation announcement requirements on short voyages would be impractical and unlikely to achieve the desired intent. We believe the reasoning behind this allowance is, remains valid. We intend to take no further action on this recommendation and ask that it be closed.