USCG releases its Final Action Memo on the El Faro sinking

The US Coast Guard (USCG) on Thursday released its Final Action Memo about the 2015 sinking of the El Faro cargo ship.

El Faro went down off the Bahamas on October 1 that year with the loss of all 33 crew after being caught in Hurricane Joaquin.

USCG’s Marine Board of Investigation (MBI) had issued its Report of Investigation (ROI) into the tragedy in October.

In Thursday’s Final Action Memo, Commandant of the Coast Guard Admiral Paul Zukunft approved the findings of fact, analysis and conclusions detailed in the MBI’s report.

Essentially Admiral Zukunft confirmed that the primary cause of the fatal loss was the ship captain’s decision to navigate too close to Hurricane Joaquin’s path.

Other contributing factors were: the operating company Tote Services’ ineffective safety management system; classification society the American Bureau of Shipping’s (ABS) failure to spot or fix longstanding deficiencies in the vessel; and USCG’s own failure to oversee inspections conducted by ABS.

In concluding, Admiral Zukunft said: “The loss of the El Faro and its crew members was tragic and preventable. The Coast Guard will take appropriate action on all that we learned from this investigation.”

USCG’s response to the recommendations will be led by Rear Admiral John Nadeau.

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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