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VDR of sunken El Faro has been successfully recovered

The US National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) has announced that the Voyage Data Recorder (VDR) of sunken cargo vessel El Faro has been successfully recovered.

A deep ocean remotely operated underwater vehicle, CURV-21, equipped with special technology was used to perform the recovery. It was transported to the sinking site off the Bahamas by ocean tug USNS Apache, which set off on the recovery mission last week from Virginia Beach, Virginia.

Aboard the Apache were personnel from NTSB, US Coast Guard, the US Navy and Phoenix International, the marine services company that operates the CURV-21.

The US-flagged El Faro went down with the loss of all 33 crew members when it was caught in Hurricane Joaquin on October 1, 2015.

It took a month to find the wreck, broken into two main pieces on the ocean floor. And it was another five months before the VDR could be located. But the recovery operation took another while to set up as special equipment was needed to retrieve the device from the El Faro’s mast on the ocean floor.

The vessel had been delivering a cargo of cars from Jacksonville, Florida to San Juan, Puerto Rico when disaster struck.

There have already been two sessions of US Coast Guard Marine Board of Investigation hearings into El Faro’s fate and a third one is due.

It is hoped data on the VDR will give the third hearings a significant amount of new information.

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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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