By MarEx 2015-10-08 12:29:15
The U.S. Coast Guard suspended its search for the missing crew of the Tote-operated M/V El Faro cargo ship that sank off the Bahamas on October 7. The vessel sank on October 1 and the exhaustive air and sea search lasted for six days.
The decision to suspend the search came one day after National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) officials arrived in the El Faro’s homeport in Jacksonville, Florida. The NTSB is currently conducting its own investigation into the cause of the vessel’s sinking.
Now that the USCG has suspended its search for survivors, NTSB has requested a U.S. Navy salvage unit to join the search for the ship’s wreckage. NTSB hopes to mobilize the salvage unit by the end of the week and crews have honed the search area to two debris fields. One is about 345 square miles from the El Faro’s last known location, and the second is 81 square miles north of that location.
The ship’s owners, Tote Maritime Puerto Rico, believe the ship sank last Thursday after suffering engine failure during its weekly run from Jacksonville to San Juan, Puerto Rico, leaving it at the mercy of Joaquin off the southern Bahamas.
Tote officials insist that Captain Michael Davison had a sound plan to avoid Hurricane Joaquin’s path had his ship not experienced propulsion failure. Davidson reportedly had real-time weather information when he left the port in Jacksonville and reported favorable conditions at the outset of the journey.
Officials had acknowledged earlier that chances of finding survivors were remote, given that the 790-foot ship, piled high with containers, disappeared in the middle of a ferocious storm with high seas whipped up by winds of 130 miles per hour.
The body of only one presumed crew member was found during the search. El Faro was carrying 28 U.S. crew members and five Polish contractors when it set out from Jacksonville.