Bowsprite: A New York Harbor Sketchbook

staten island ferry: the John F. Kennedy

Posted in PIW person in water, staten island ferry by bowsprite on 2010/10/19

The John F. Kennedy is the oldest ferry in service in the harbor, making the 5.2-mile (8.4-km) run between Staten Island and Manhattan Island in approximately 25 minutes. She’s a beautiful old double-ender with propellers and rudders on both ends. The propellers are connected by a continuous shaft to the engines in the center of the vessel. When going forward, the rear prop pushes, the front pulls, and the forward-facing rudder, is locked into place by a pin which goes through the deck and into a hold in the center-forward section of the rudder quadrant.

forward, the pin is down:

aft, the pin is up (it weighs 90lbs)

The deckhand had just pushed the pin in, the ferry moved out of the slip. “Twenty years! This friday will be my twentieth anniversary of working here. Doesn’t seem that long. No, I’m not taking off, I’ll be here working.

“The funniest story? well, it was actually kind of sad. We were fueling and doing drills, right over there, so we were at the fueling dock. A woman jumps into the water. Well, it’s no problem, we got the lifeboat in the water, so we get over there.

“I tell you, she must have weighed about 350 lbs. And guess what she was wearing? It was summer, probably July. Guess! Spa-a-a-ndex. She was wearing Spandex. We were pulling and pulling— it was not a pretty sight—and we just could not get her into the boat.  So we had to drag her along over the side, over to the pier. Yeah, she was fine, but she was fighting us, so we had to knock her out. But she survived. I told you: funny, but kinda sad.”

Happy 20th anniversary on the Staten Island ferries, dear Sir, and thank you!!

John F. Kennedy

Commission Date: 1965
Builder: Levingston Shipbuilding, TX
Length: 277′ (84.4m)
Width: 69′ (21m)
Draft: 19’1″ (5.8m)
Gross Tonnage: 2109
service speed: 16 knots (30 km/h)
crew: 13
Passengers: 3500 / (40 vehicles, pre 9/11)
Propulsion: Diesel Electric 600 volts DC
Engines: GM-EMD-567C16 (x4)
Horsepower: 6500 (4.8 MW)

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