SeaStreak ferry forced to dock at Sandy Hook

Scare turns out to be electrical malfunction


Staff Writer

MARISAHULSE Passengers waiting on Sandy Hook for a relief ferry on Friday. MARISAHULSE Passengers waiting on Sandy Hook for a relief ferry on Friday. In the wake of the recent bombings in London, England, an incident on the SeaStreak New York ferry Friday morning was alarming for everyone concerned.

Marisa Hulse, a Tinton Falls resident who rides the ferry to Pier 11 and her job with Nielsen Media in downtown Manhattan, said it was a beautiful morning and she was sitting inside the 8 a.m. ferry out of the Highland’s Old Connors Hotel terminal, drinking tea, when the boat slowed down.

“All of a sudden, I heard them page

someone to the wheelhouse ‘ASAP.’ They did that twice. The captain’s voice was elevated a bit, so he sounded somewhat alarmed. Then the boat took a big right turn, which is unusual because the trip is straight north.

“Shortly after that, the captain came on the loud speaker and addressed the riders. He said there had been an incident and they needed to dock at Sandy Hook. ‘We’ll let you know if we have to disembark,’ he said.

“As soon as that announcement was made, we packed up and prepared to leave.”

Joanne Conroy, marketing manager with SeaStreak, said that once the problem was detected, the captain made a decision to pull into Sandy Hook. At that point, there was smoke in the wheelhouse and the captain and crew did not know the extent of the problem, she said.

As it turned out, there was an electrical problem with the windshield defroster. The problem caused the windshield to break and the wheelhouse filled up with smoke.

Hulse said that just before the ferry docked at Sandy Hook, the captain got on the loud speaker again.

“He said, ‘We have a code red, and need you to evacuate as quickly as possible.’

“As soon as he said that, everyone jumped up and headed for the bow. I’m sure everyone was aware of what had happened in London. It was the day after the second bombings there,” she said.

According to Hulse, security at the ferry had already been heightened, and people’s bags were being checked since the first bombings in London two weeks earlier.

The ferry docked at the Coast Guard dock, across from Officers Row on Sandy Hook.

“It was orderly, but there was a sense of urgency. We all got on the little dock and waited for them to unlock the gate. Once it was unlocked, we were all told to walk to a grassy area,” Hulse explained.

She said passengers were speculating that there was a fire onboard, but she never saw the fire or the smoke.

“While we waited, everyone was on his or her cell phone.”

Hulse said she saw the Sandy Hook Fire Department and a Coast Guard boat hovering around the ferry.

A relief ferry pulled up to the other side of the dock and people were able to board.

According to Hulse, the captain got on the second boat and over the loud speaker apologized for the inconvenience and offered complimentary drinks.

“The whole ordeal probably took an extra 45 minutes, because that’s how late I was for work,” Hulse said.

Later in the day, passengers received e-mail messages at work explaining that there would be a revised evening schedule. “Due to the slower operating speed of the SeaStreak Liberty, there may be slight delays in the vessel’s departure time; however, we will do everything possible to keep delays to an absolute minimum,” the message said.

Hulse said SeaStreak did an outstanding job in handling the situation. She also observed that passengers were calm and the process was orderly.

“The ferry riders were wonderful. They are always very polite. There was no pushing. Unlike the subways, it was very civilized,” she said.