During the rush hour of Thursday, December 22, 2022, a fire broke out on the The Sandy Ground, a new 85 million dollar ferry. This is one of three of Staten Island's recently commissioned Ollis-class vessels. At the time, the rush hour ferry was carrying 16 crew members and 868 passengers. The fire began in the engine room, just after 5 pm. Five injuries due to minor smoke inhalation were reported. Those individuals were taken to area hospitals.
The ferry anchored near Bayonne, N.J. as emergency responders battled the blaze. Passengers aboard the fire-stricken Sandy Ground were given life jackets and transferred to other ferries. Others remained with the ferry as it was towed to Staten Island's St George terminal.
The fast-acting ferry crew sealed access to the area and injected CO2 to douse flames. Speaking at a press conference, Captain John Garvey, Deputy commissioner and Chief Operating Officer of the Staten Island Ferry, stated all the safety systems onboard worked and “nothing of this nature” has previously taken place on the occurred on any of the new Ollis vessels.
The Marine Engineers’ Beneficial Association claims the new ferries have had “serious issues and the DOT failed to train our members on the new fleet.”
The Staten Island Ferry Workers Union stated the Sandy Ground fire ignited due to a fuel leak. The city has not yet confirmed that information.The cause of the fire will be determined by the Coast Guard.
Borough President Vito Fossella issued this statement: “First and foremost, I want to express relief that all passengers on the Staten Island Ferry Sandy Ground are safe. We now need to take a long hard look at what happened. How could this fire erupt aboard one of our new Ollis-class ferries?”
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