Salvors have been contacted to try and locate the 40-year-ol El Faro boxship which authorities presumed sank near the Bahamas as the ferocious Hurricane Joaquin passed through the region on October 1.
Yesterday, the US’s National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) issued a preliminary report on its investigation into accident with scant new details bar the salvage news.
The US Navy Salvage and Diving division of the Naval Seas Systems Command has contracted to locate the sunken ship, assist in the sea floor documentation of the wreckage, and recover the voyage data recorder.
More details from the NTSB investigation are expected next week.
“The US-flagged ship, owned by Sea Star Line, and operated by TOTE Services (TOTE), was 36 nautical miles northeast of Acklins and Crooked Islands, Bahamas, and close to the eye of Hurricane Joaquin. The ship was en route from Jacksonville, Florida, to San Juan, Puerto Rico, with a cargo of containers and vehicles. Just minutes before the distress alerts, the El Faro master had called TOTE’s designated person ashore and reported that the ship was experiencing some flooding. He said the crew had controlled the ingress of water but the ship was listing 15 degrees and had lost propulsion. The Coast Guard and TOTE were unable to reestablish communication with the ship. Twenty-eight US crewmembers and five Polish workers were on board,” NTSB said in its preliminary report.
One family of a lost seafarer started proceedings for a $100m lawsuit against TOTE yesterday.
Meanwhile, it has emerged that the US Coast Guard issued a ‘no sail’ order in late June on the El Yunque, El Faro’s nearly identical sister ship, requiring it to stay at dock until its deteriorated lifeboat machinery was made safe. According to a report in the New York Times, El Yunque’s inspection records are in fact much worse than El Faro’s.