According to investigators, preliminary indications are the ferry had an electrical transformer malfunction.
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Preliminary reports indicated the captain sounded the boat's whistle and crew members prepared the passengers for the hard landing, Staten Island Ferry Chief Operating Officer Jim DeSimone said.
Witnesses said that the announcement from the pilothouse was to "hang on" and that riders scrambled to the back of the ferry, which was taking them from lower Manhattan.
The boat hit the terminal's lower bridge platform and upper pedestrian passenger walkway, causing minor damage to the bridge deck and handrail on the walkway, DeSimone said. There was no damage to the boat, the John J. Marchi, named for a former state senator who died in April.
Between 700 and 800 people were on board the ferry at the time.
The 15 who were injured were taken to the hospital, but officials described all of the injuries as minor.
No one went into the water, according to the Coast Guard.
Ferry crew members were undergoing routine drug and alcohol tests, DeSimone said.
The Marchi has been in service for just over four years. It made its inaugural ride on Friday May 20, 2005.
New York City's Staten Island Ferry has nine vessels that carry commuters between St. George on Staten Island and Whitehall Street in lower Manhattan. The five-mile, 25-minute ride is free.
In 2003, a Staten Island ferry with about 1,500 people aboard slammed into a Staten Island pier at full speed, killing 11 people.
Authorities later determined that the ferry pilot had been taking painkillers and was suffering from extreme fatigue.
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