The US Coast Guard (USCG) announced on Friday that the third and final Coast Guard Marine Board of Investigation hearing into the sinking of the El Faro cargo ship will take place on 6 February, 2017 in Jacksonville, Florida.
The El Faro sank on October 1, 2015, with the loss of 33 crew, when it was caught in Hurricane Joaquin off the Bahamas while en route from Jacksonville to San Juan, Puerto Rico. The wreckage was found 15,000 feet down on the ocean floor a month later.
Its voyage data recorder (VDR) was located five months after that and actually recovered four months after that in August 2016.
These third round of hearings will be the first ones since investigators recovered and began analyzing audio and data from the VDR.
Transcripts of the VDR audio recordings, much of them harrowing, were released in December 2016.
Apart from the VDR contents this third hearing will also consider crew witnesses, officials of ship owner Tote and USCG officials.
Two previous two-week sessions of hearings, also in Jacksonville, were held in February and in May 2016.
The first hearing examined the ship’s history of pre-accident events, crew members’ duties and qualifications, and the USCG’s search and rescue effort.
The second hearing looked at shipboard operations, cargo loading, the vessel’s stability, weather forecasted and weather encountered.
USCG will host live streaming of the third hearing and will be live tweeting during the proceedings.