Steamship Authority: Hyannis Ferry Captain Mistook Pole, Sailboats For Buoys

HYANNIS (CBS) — In a new report released Tuesday, the Steamship Authority says a June 16 Hyannis ferry crash happened because the captain mistook a metal pole and a pair of sailboats for buoys that served as navigation aids.

The Iyanough, which was traveling on its last trip from Nantucket to Hyannis of the evening, hit a jetty in Hyannis Harbor around 9:30 p.m., injuring 15 people.

ferry1 Steamship Authority: Hyannis Ferry Captain Mistook Pole, Sailboats For Buoys

A ferry in Hyannis became stranded on a jetty on Friday, June 16. (WBZ-TV)

The Steamship Authority report said the ferry’s captain and pilot had been trying to locate a series of buoys using a searchlight, but could not. It said they instead found what they thought was the pattern of three buoys marking the entrance to the harbor via radar.

“But what the Captain had interpreted on the RADAR as Buoy No. 4 was in fact the metal pole at the end of the breakwater, which is about 800 yards north of Buoy No. 4 and also north of the channel entrance,” read the report. “In addition, what the Captain had interpreted as Buoys 5 and 6 were actually sailboats located on the other side of the jetty.”

The report said the distances between those sailboats and pole “matched identically” the distances between the buoys.

It also said the captain couldn’t see the jetty because of high waves and choppy seas–and didn’t realize his mistake until it was too late.

ferrydamage Steamship Authority: Hyannis Ferry Captain Mistook Pole, Sailboats For Buoys

A look at the damage done to a ferry that crashed into a jetty in Hyannis. (Jim Smith/WBZ-TV)

The captain and pilot, who were placed on leave last week, tested negative for alcohol and drugs, and the Steamship Authority said the ferry’s mechanical systems were all working fine.

The Steamship Authority said they expect the Iyanough to be back in service some time around July 21. Until then, they are leasing another ferry to make the trips.

In addition to the Steamship Authority, the Coast Guard is also conducting their own investigation.

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