The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) in the US released a more in depth, second report into the sinking of the TOTE-controlled El Faro boxship yesterday. Among the findings were that the master of the 40-year-old vessel had reported a hull breach and a hatch had blown open as Hurricane Joaquin bore down on the vessel near the Bahamas at the start of October. The ship’s captain made a satellite call to say the ship was taking on water in one of the holds and that it has lost its main propulsion unit.
The NTSB said the El Faro was undergoing “modifications” by welders and engineers ahead of redeploying to the US West Coast. It was due for a drydocking in early November to service the ship’s boilers. Some engine room work was ongoing on the ship’s fateful final voyage, the owner has admitted.
Three former crewmembers of El Faro told TV news channel CNN the ship had structural problems earlier this month, something the ship’s owner has repeatedly denied.
The ship went down in very stormy conditions with the loss of 33 lives. Efforts are now underway to try and find the vessel with the US Navy having narrowed its search to a 100 sq mile area off the Bahamas.