(June 17, 2017, 7:07 a.m.) The Steamship Authority fast ferry Iyanough struck a stone breakwater on its way in to Hyannis Harbor just after 9:30 p.m. Friday night, injuring nine people, SSA and U.S. Coast Guard officials said. At 7:08 a.m. Saturday, it was still stuck on the rocks but all passengers and crew had been evacuated.
Emergency services in Hyannis responded and the 47-rescue vessel from Brant Point was en route at just past 10 p.m. Friday evening, Brant Point master chief Chris Swiatek said, although the Hyannis fire boat was initially forced to turn back due to rough seas, according to emergency-services radio chatter.
Forty-eight passengers and nine crew and concession workers were on the Iyanough at the time of the crash. The vessel, which left Nantucket at 8:45 p.m., was taking on water but did not appear to be in danger of sinking, according to emergency radio transmissions.
Swiatek said he did not know the extent of the injuries, exactly what the Iyanough hit or what caused it to leave the center of the channel. The seas were choppy with winds blowing about 25-30 mph over Nantucket Sound for much of the day, but no Steamship Authority or Hy-Line Cruises trips were canceled.
Coast Guard radio traffic indicated at least one person had suffered a serious head injury and was in need of an airlift for medical evacuation. An HH-60 helicopter crew from Air Station Cape Cod reached the vessel just after 11:10 p.m. and airlifted the victim from the bow of the boat to a waiting ambulance at Barnstable Airport. A second passenger with undisclosed injuries was also airlifted from the Iyanough to the airport.
By the end of the evacuation, the helicopter had hoisted five injured passengers off the ferry with help from a doctor onboard, according to the Coast Guard. The aircrew also hoisted 10 uninjured passengers who weren’t able to walk over the jetty’s slippery rocks, according to the agency.The remaining passengers were taken by a series of boats back to the shore before a bus brought them back to the terminal.
Several onlookers on shore, some with beer and wine in hand as the night went on, arrived at the Hyannisport Yacht Club, where most of the response teams assembled, to see what was happening but were turned away by officials.
Hyannis Fire Dept. Capt. Thomas Kenney told Boston’s WBZ-TV via phone around 11 p.m. that the Iyanough sent a Mayday at 9:32 p.m. and his department responded with fire-rescue personnel and emergency medical technicians, who were able to board the high-speed catamaran to treat the injured.
Because of the high winds and waves, emergency officials chose to keep those not injured aboard the Iyanough until a rescue plan could be developed, Kenney said.
At 12:10 a.m. Saturday, at least three rescue boats were preparing to evacuate the Iyanough, with women and children taken off the vessel first, Coast Guard officials said. All passengers had been evacuated by 3:30 a.m.
The Hyannis Fire Department, Centerville-Osterville-Marstons Mills Fire Department and Barnstable Police staged at the Hyannisport Yacht Club.
A tugboat was also en route from New Bedford, presumably to help free the Iyanough from the breakwater, but is expected to take six or seven hours to arrive, Coast Guard officials said.
SSA general manager Wayne Lamson, who arrived in Hyannis around midnight, said early Saturday morning the boat line was working to assess what had happened, but its first priority was ensuring the safety and security of the passengers. All crew members had been tested for alcohol at the scene, and all were negative, he said. They will also be tested for drugs.
The SSA was planning a 1 p.m. press conference in Hyannis to provide further updates.
An online marine traffic program shows the typical course of the ferry heading in and out of Hyannis Harbor, with it normally approaching the breakwater but veering east before coming too close. The last track shows the ferry traveled straight ahead before it struck the breakwater, which extends for 3,000 feet into Nantucket Sound.
Coast Guard crews will work with the Steamship Authority to assess the damage to the ferry and “ensure safe navigation in the area,” according to the statement from the Coast Guard.
As Saturday morning rolled around, and people were being rescued off the ferry, a handful of people waited inside the Hyannis terminal awaiting their loved ones.
One Sandwich woman was waiting for her husband and son who work on Nantucket and take the boat over five days a week, she said.
They were supposed to take an earlier Hy-Line Cruises boat but missed it, the woman said.
They texted her after the crash, but her cell phone began to die immediately thereafter. Another person who was waiting at the terminal for a sister loaned her a charger.
“They were going pretty good when they hit,” the woman said. “I don’t know what happened.”
For the Father’s Day weekend, Nantucketer Nicholas Ouellette and his girlfriend were headed back to the mainland to see Ouellette’s parents in Westport.
Ouellette’s Seastreak boat to New Bedford was cancelled so he hopped on the Steamship ferry to Hyannis, where he planned to catch a bus off-cape.
Francine and Donald Ouellette, Nicholas’ parents, drove to Hyannis after their son, a chiropractor/physician on the island, called and broke the news.
“We just decided we wanted to come and receive them,” Francine said. “Everybody was helping everybody else.”
Pictures on the boat showed food and other items toppled over in the aisles as the boat stuck up out of the water, though many people remained calm.
Nicholas made it out unscathed, Francine said.
At about 2:30 a.m., Lamson apologized to the first few passengers who made it back to the terminal.
“You’re safety is of the utmost importance,” he said. He offered to help riders with lodging should they need it and said they are working to get luggage off the boat.
One man said his son, a passenger on the boat at the time of the crash, had medical supplies aboard.
“We are going to do everything we can to get them to you as soon as possible,” Lamson said.
A Westport woman who was also supposed to be on the Seastreak was sitting on the back of the boat when it ran aground.
A woman who was one of the nine employees on the boat flew down the stairs and hit her face, the passenger said.
“It was like being in a car crash,” she said.
The Steamship Authority is currently working to figure out how to dislodge the stranded ferry.
“We are in the process of finding a replacement vessel if possible,” Lamson said. A heavy duty crane may be necessary if the boat can’t be refloated, he said.
Check back to ack.net for more details as they become available.