ABS official says El Faro met required safety standards before its final journey

An American Bureau of Shipping (ABS) official took centre stage in Thursday’s proceedings of the El Faro hearings.

Tom Gruber, chief engineer of ABS, defended the role of the company as the third party that conducts vessel inspections on behalf of the US Coast Guard (USCG).

The El Faro sank with the loss of all 33 crew when it was caught in Hurricane Joaquin off the Bahamas on October 1, 2015.

Gruber told the hearing that El Faro was in compliance with federal regulations and with ABS’s trim and stability rules when it set out on its final journey from Jacksonville, Florida to San Juan, Puerto Rico.

He also said he had no knowledge of problems being reported on the ponce class vessels. El Faro was in the ponce class as was its sister ship El Yunque, which owners Tote sent for scrapping after the El Faro sinking.

This is the third and final USCG Marine Board of Investigation (MBI) hearing into the tragedy. It began on Monday and is expected to last two weeks.

Donal Scully

With 28 years experience writing and editing for newspapers in the UK and Hong Kong, Donal is now based in California from where he covers the Americas for Splash as well as ensuring the site is loaded through the Western Hemisphere timezone.
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