Ferry ride for local officials runs aground in Jamaica Bay

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A Seastreak ferry (Michael Hicks)
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A Seastreak ferry ran aground in Jamaica Bay this afternoon, forcing the fire department to remove all 29 passengers, none of whom were injured, according to an FDNY spokesman and news reports. 

The ferry was not part of the regular Rockaways service, but was a private ride organized by a local ferry advocate to explore ways of expanding service, possibly to JFK Airport.

The ferry ride included, among others, representatives from the offices of Assemblyman Phil Goldfeder and Queens borough president Melinda Katz.

"There was no big thump," said Goldfeder, who wasn't on the boat, but spoke to people who were. He said passengers didn't even realize they were stuck until they tried moving.

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Goldfeder said the incident shouldn't be used to paint ferry service as unreliable or prone to delays.

“For every minor ferry incident, you can probably locate 50 subway delays," Goldfeder said. "It’s just so inconsequential.”

The incident will not impact ferry service to the Rockaways, which carries about 800 people daily, according to Kate Blumm, a spokeswoman for the city’s Economic Development Corporation.

Sea Streak posted a message on their web site saying the vessel was “moving at approximately 2 knots per hour when it grounded on the muddy bottom” and “Rather than wait” for outgoing tide to move the ferry, “a nearby New York City Fire Department boat came by and took our passengers ashore.”

A Sea Streak spokesman Tom Wynne said the boat “encountered an uncharted shoal. We are sorry this happened and that our guests were inconvenienced. Thankfully, no one was injured.”

In April, the National Transportation Safety Board released a report that said a Seastreak accident near Wall Street in January of 2013, which injured 80 people, was caused by the captain’s error.

UPDATE: Queens borough president Melinda Katz, in a statement, said, “Today’s incident does not take away from the fact that is imperative that ferry service between Manhattan and Rockaways be made permanent. Permanent ferry service would do more to promote economic development in the Rockaways than just about anything else that has been proposed in recent history. … It is essential that the Rockaway ferry be made into a permanent mode of transportation.”