40-year-old El Faro suffered mechanical failure as Hurricane Joaquin approached

The head of the shipping line that operated the ill fated El Faro has said the 40-year-old ship suffered mechanical failure, which was the reason it was unable to avoid last week’s Hurricane Joaquin.

With the US Coast Guard now suggesting the boxship likely sank somewhere off the Bahamas last week in 15,000 ft of water with 33 crew onboard, Phil Greene, president and CEO of Tote Services, discussed the El Faro’s master’s decision to head from Puerto Rico to Florida last Tuesday despite clear evidence the hurricane with 240 kmh winds was barrelling down on the region.

“Regrettably he suffered a mechanical problem with his main propulsion system, which left him in the path of the storm,” Greene said. “We do not know when his engine problems began to occur, nor the reasons for his engine problems.”

One unidentified body in a survival suit has been spotted so far.

“We are still looking for survivors and any signs of life,” US Coast Guard Captain Mark Fedor said at a news conference yesterday.


Sam Chambers

Starting out with the Informa Group in 2000 in Hong Kong, Sam Chambers became editor of Maritime Asia magazine as well as East Asia Editor for the world’s oldest newspaper, Lloyd’s List. In 2005 he pursued a freelance career and wrote for a variety of titles including taking on the role of Asia Editor at Seatrade magazine and China correspondent for Supply Chain Asia. His work has also appeared in The Economist, The New York Times, The Sunday Times and The International Herald Tribune.


  1. I remember it when it was the Puerto Rico. Today it was an old steamship. The only reason it was kept running was it was a large Jones Act ship and a ship this size would cost a lot to build in a U.S. shipyard which is required by the Jones Act. Crowley is smarter. They use large deck barges with towing tugs. No large crews required like a large ship and a steamship even more crew is required than diesel.

    1. We know that the Jones Act is costing the american tax-payer a lot – now we also know that the Jones Act is costing lives.

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