Search continues for missing boxship

Search teams spread across the Atlantic over the weekend desperately trying to find the El Faro containership that was caught up in the huge Hurricane Joaquin.

The 40-year-old, 17,915-dwt ship went missing near the Bahamas with 28 American and five Polish crew onboard, another vessel to have fallen to the curse of the Bermuda Triangle.

On Thursday morning the US Coast Guard in Portsmouth, Virginia got an Inmarsat satellite notification stating the ship had been hit by the hurricane and had lost propulsion and had a 15-degree list.

The US-flagged ship, belonging to TOTE Maritime, was near Crooked Island, Bahamas, en route to San Juan, Puerto Rico, from Jacksonville, Florida.

The crew had reported the ship had previously taken on water, but that all flooding had been contained. Since then, communications were lost.

On Saturday night, an airplane involved in the search located a life ring from the El Faro about 75 miles northeast of the ship’s last known position

Since Thursday, search and rescue crews have covered 30,000 sq miles.

Hurricane Joaquin brought intense storms to the Caribbean and the Atlantic, with the El Faro likely encountering winds of up to 240 kmh and waves in excess of 12 m high. Relatives of the missing crew have questioned why the ship was making the voyage when it was clear it was headed into the eye of the storm.

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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