About 1930 on January 4, 2001, the domestic high-speed vessel Finest, with 258 passengers, 5 crewmembers, and one company official on board, ran aground outside the channel to the Shrewsbury River, Sandy Hook Bay, while en route from New York City, New York, to Highlands, New Jersey. The Finest refloated at 0007 on January 5, after the tide changed, and proceeded to Sandy Hook Bay Marina, where it docked at 0026 and discharged its passengers. No one on board the vessel suffered any injury, and the vessel sustained no damage. One person on board had to be evacuated from the vessel by helicopter for medical treatment of an allergic reaction unrelated to the accident.
The National Transportation Safety Board determines that the probable cause of the grounding of the Finest was the failure of the vessel master to use appropriate navigational procedures and equipment to determine the vessel's position while approaching the Shrewsbury River channel. Contributing to the cause of the grounding was the lack of readily visible fixed navigational aids. Also contributing to the cause of the grounding was the failure of New York Fast Ferry to require the use of installed navigation equipment and to set guidelines for operations in adverse environmental conditions.
The major safety issues in this report are as follows:
- Adequacy of navigational procedures;
- Adequacy of navigational aids in the Shrewsbury River; and
- Appropriateness of alcoholic beverage service after an accident.
As a result of its investigation of this accident, the Safety Board makes one safety recommendation to the U.S. Coast Guard and three to New York Fast Ferry Services.
As a result of its investigation of this accident, the National Transportation Safety Board makes the following recommendations:
To the U. S. Coast Guard:
Install beacons to augment or replace buoys at the entrance to the Shrewsbury River channel. (M-02-18)
To New York Fast Ferry:
Establish and implement requirements that vessel masters and crewmembers with navigational responsibilities use to proficiency all installed vessel navigation equipment and institute procedures to periodically monitor their performance. (M-02-19)
Establish and implement vessel operations standards for navigation in adverse environmental conditions, including fog, snow, heavy rain, and ice. (M-02-20)
Establish a company policy requiring the cessation of alcoholic beverage service during emergency situations and include that policy in your Vessel Operating Manual. (M-02-21)