El Faro bill heads to Congress

A bill is to be debated in Congress that will potentially see the powers of the US Coast Guard ramped up in the wake of the El Faro sinking nearly three years ago.

The bill would among other things, require Coast Guard commandant Admiral Karl Schultz to create a report estimating what it would cost to triple the staff for the Coast Guard’s traveling inspection team. That team double checks vessel surveys. The bill would also require the Coast Guard to post a list of failed inspections or discrepancies online.

The 1975-built El Faro sank in October 2015 with the loss of 33 lives. The ship sinking sparked a massive investigation which has broadened out into a more in depth look at the whole of the US merchant fleet.

In addition to more closely regulating ship inspections, the bill directly addresses ship stability and condition concerns by requiring a review of policies for documenting major ship conversions and how ships’ weight and stability are calculated and monitored.

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.
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