El Faro sister ship was significantly corroded and will be scrapped, hearing told

The sister ship of El Faro was ordered to be scrapped after being found to have significant corrosion, it was revealed in testimony at the El Faro disaster hearing on Tuesday.

Day two of the third hearing by the US Coast Guard (USCG) Marine Board of Investigation (MBI) at Jacksonville, Florida, heard from Captain David Flaherty how the sister ship El Yunque had major wastage in its ventilation trunks.

Captain Flaherty, USCG’s chief travelling inspector, said that inspection of El Yunque – undertaken after the catastrophic sinking of El Faro – indicated that the corrosion had continued unabated for several years. It is now in Brownsville, Texas, waiting to be scrapped.

El Faro, a cargo ship carrying mostly cars, went down off the Bahamas on October 1, 2015 when it was caught in Hurricane Joaquin and lost propulsive power. All 33 crew members died.

El Yunque – like El Faro owned by Tote Maritime – is named for Puerto Rico’s national forest.

Captain Flaherty also addressed the issue of the Alternate Compliance Program (ACP), a vessel inspection protocol that applied to El Faro.

The ACP, which was developed in 1996, allows classification societies such as the American Bureau of Shipping to carry out inspections on behalf of USCG.

Flaherty said there was evidence of discrepancies in how ACP was being implemented and concern about less than perfect communication between class societies, USCG and ship owners within the ACP protocol.

ABS did the inspections of El Faro.

This is the third MBI hearing to be held into the El Faro disaster, but the first to include information retrieved from the vessel’s voyage data recorder (VDR).

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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