July 2, 2008

Block Island Ferry Collides with Coast Guard Vessel

Marc Comtois

A local contact has informed me that the Block Island Ferry has collided with a Coast Guard vessel. I don't want to sound any alarms because I'm not sure of the severity of damage or of any injuries. Apparently, the fog banks are rolling pretty heavy out there today.

Bottom Line: : NO INJURIES, MINIMAL DAMAGE. (Running commentary found below).

UPDATE: It sounds like there aren't any sort of rescue operations underway. That's a good sign.

UPDATE II: NBC 10 has a bit more:

A Coast Guard vessel collided Wednesday with the Block Island Ferry, the Coast Guard said.

There were no reports of injuries. The Coast Guard said 257 people were on the ferry.

The Coast Guard said the Morro Bay, a Coast Guard vessel based in New London, collided with the ferry about four miles northeast of Block Island. The collision happened at about 12:15 p.m.

There was exterior damage to the ferry, but neither vessel was taking on water.

The Coast Guard sent a 47-foot vessel to assist.

The Morro Bay is an ice-breaking tug like this. The Morro Bay was re-commissioned in 2002:
The Morro Bay will be homeported in New London and will also be used as a training ship for cadets and officer candidates at the Coast Guard Academy and Officer Candidate School.
Uh-oh. I wonder if someone is going to fail their seamanship or navigation class?

UPDATE III: More sources indicate that the Morro Bay has been in Newport for a repair period for the last month.

UPDATE IV (and last): Via 7to7:

Visibility was about 200 yards at the time of the 12:15 p.m. collision, according the Coast Guard.

The Coast Guard vessel Morro Bay, a 140-foot buoy tender, had been on its way back to its home port, in New London, Conn. Reports originally described the boat as a cutter.

The ferry -- named the Block Island -- had left its berth in Point Judith in Narragansett at 11:45 p.m, according to passengers on board. It was carrying 257 people, the Coast Guard said.

The ferry has a 44-inch-long dent about 5 feet above the water line, Petty Officer Etta Smith said.

The ferry arrived at its port in Old Harbor on Block Island at about 2:25 p.m., escorted by two Coast Guard boats.

The collision occured in thick fog, according to passengers John and Michelle Daveau, of Webster, Mass.

Shortly before the collision, John Daveau said he heard the ferry sounding its horn and noticed it trying to slow. Then he saw the Coast Guard vessel cutting across the bow of the ferry. He said the ferry hit the cutter in the stern.

It was a bump "like hitting a dock," Daveau said.

"People started running for life jackets," Daveau said. "All the kids put on lifejackets."

His wife, Michelle, said, "It took 20 years off my life."

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How a tug and a ferry collided I will never understand. I think the top end on the Morro was all of ten knots and that's when she's not in the yard undergoing a rebuild like she is right now.

It's like turtles humping. NOTHING happens fast. If more than scraped paint and cracked fiberglass is the damage on the ferry I'll be very surprised.

Posted by: Greg at July 2, 2008 2:29 PM
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