El Faro’s captain had a plan to avoid Hurricane Joaquin

Executives from Tote Maritime say the captain of the missing containership El Faro had a “sound plan” to navigate around Hurricane Joaquin, which is presumed to have caused the vessel to sink after its engine failed.

The ship’s unnamed master had real-time weather information when El Faro departed Jacksonville port in Florida, Tote Services’ president Phil Greene told a press conference today.

The plan “was a sound plan that would have enabled him to clearly pass around the storm with a margin of comfort that was adequate in his professional opinion,” Greene said.

Anthony Chiarello, president and CEO of Tote Incorporated added the storm had not fully broken at the time when the vessel left Jacksonville last Tuesday night.

The vessel lost propulsion on Thursday while en route to Puerto Rico and sailing very near to the eye of the storm. The hurricane is presumed to have sunk the vessel near to its last known location near Crooked Island, Bahamas.

Before communication was lost, the captain was able to report that the vessel had developed a 15-degree list and that its engines had failed, the causes of which are still unknown.

Survival suits, life boats and life rafts have been retrieved from the 225-square-mile debris area in the Caribbean Sea. A container and an oil sheen believed to have come from the ship were found on Sunday.

One of the survival suits contained unidentifiable human remains, the US Coast Guard (USCG) said on Monday.

“Our focus is on survivors. That’s our mission,” said Capt. Mark Fedore, the USCG’s chief petty officer.

Holly Birkett

Holly is Splash's Online Editor and correspondent for the UK and Mediterranean. She has been a maritime journalist since 2010, and has written for and edited several trade publications. She is currently studying for membership of the Institute of Chartered Shipbrokers. In 2013, Holly won the Seahorse Club's Social Media Journalist of the Year award. She is currently based in London.
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